Hawkins volunteers need donations of elastic to continue making surgical masks

Jeff Bobo • Mar 31, 2020 at 4:00 PM

UPDATE from Corki Weart: Rogersville Police Chief Doug Nelson delivered the remaining 500 Protection Masks (after distribution at the Armory) to Hawkins County Memorial Hospital Wednesday where the Protection Masks were desperately needed. ALL 1,100 Protection Masks were distributed where they were most needed We are continuing to make the Protection Masks next distribution will be to our Hawkins County Pharmacists and well as other 1st Responders.

ROGERSVILLE – A group of Hawkins County volunteers that is making surgical masks for first responders and medical staff in their area received a major contribution of surgical grade material Friday, but now they're facing an elastic shortage.

Corki Weart is a member of a Hawkins County group called “Project Serve Our Soldiers” that adopts military companies and sends gifts to to men and women fighting wars overseas.

Weart is now coordinating fellow members of Project Serve Our Soldiers, along with members of the Happy Hearts Quilting Guild and a group of local NJROTC cadets who are making masks that are being distributed those who need them on Wednesday and Fridays at the Rogersville National Guard Armory.

But, apparently there is a national shortage of elastic, and Weart has put out the call for elastic contributions.

“On Wednesday and Friday when we're at the Armory (at noon), I will have a drive-by drop off container, because I don't want people getting out of their cars, and and I will take any and all elastic that people have,” Weart said. “But, it has to be strips that are one inch wide or less. I don't care what color it is. I don't care if the packages are opened or not. As long as I have a yard or more, we need it desperately.”

The Times News reported on this Hawkins County surgical mask manufacturing effort in Friday's edition. Weart said that after the article came out in the paper, she received an anonymous contribution of $500 for supplies, as well as a contribution of a substantial amount of surgical grade material for making masks.

The article also helped her recruit 10 new “sewing soldiers” to her ranks, but what is holding them back right now is a shortage of elastic.

Weart added, “From now until this virus has been defeated we will continue making as many surgical masks as we can, because that's something that is desperately really needed, not just in our community but all across the nation,” Weart said. “On the Wednesdays and Friday distribution days at the Armory I will collect any elastic contributions we receive, take them home and wash them. Every inch matters and will be put to good use.

Weart said they have approximately 2,000 masks completed that will be ready for distribution on Wednesday.

On Wednesday they hope to distribute surgical mass to members of all Hawkins County volunteer fire departments, rescue squads and the Hawkins County EMS.

Bill Hewitt, who is serving as communications between the mask makers and the emergency responders, said he has left messages with every VFD in the county, but had only heard back from five of them.

Hewitt asked that a representative from each VFD, rescue squad and EMS contact him, if they haven't already, at (321) 693-1548 to confirm the number of masks that they need so their packages can be prepared and ready to hand out quickly.

“The plan is for the next few weeks is to be there at the Rogersville National Guard Armory from noon until around 12:45, for them to send a representative to come pick up the face masks,” Hewitt said. “The material has been medically approved. It may not meet the needs of the medical personnel in the hospital, but it meets the needs of the fire departments, rescuers and police officers who are going into homes, and interacting up close with people as part of their job.”

Hewitt added, “We've got quite an aggressive group of volunteers who have been sewing on these masks. They're not messing around.”

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