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Hawkins 'sewing soldiers' surpass 3,800 medical masks delivered in three weeks

Jeff Bobo • Apr 11, 2020 at 3:45 PM

ROGERSVILLE — A group of Hawkins County volunteers who have been manufacturing and distributing medical masks for the past three weeks surpassed the 3,800 mark Wednesday after supplying police, courthouse staff and county offices.

Project coordinator Corki Weart told the Times News that next Wednesday looks to be another big distribution day at the Rogersville National Guard Armory, as the group will attempt to provide medical masks to all of Hawkins County’s nursing home personnel.

However, their success depends on donations of medical grade fabric and elastic continuing to arrive.

Weart said the response to two recent Times News articles was wonderful and resulted in contributions which volunteers transformed into the 1,000 masks that were issued Wednesday.

“One of the ladies who called me actually had a contact in Atlanta of a lady who closed her three fabric stores there, and she is sending us all of her elastic,” Weart said. “She read the article online and wanted to help. The problem is, we have such large numbers of people we have to supply to, it’s never enough. But that was a big donation and will help make a lot of masks.”

This mask manufacturing project started as a collaborative effort last month between the Rogersville-based Project Serve Our Soldiers led by Weart and the Happy Hearts Quilting Guild. 

New “sewing soldiers” have continued to join the ranks each week, including the recent addition of volunteers in Mooresburg, Bulls Gap and Rogersville.

Rogersville Police Department Chief Doug Nelson continues to be the go-to person for connecting the group with the public servants who need masks.

“Doug Nelson deserves a lot of credit because he is walking into the territories where we can’t,” Weart said. “He is actually crossing those front lines and delivering masks to the people who need them. Last week he delivered 500 masks to the (Hawkins County Memorial) hospital. He’s delivering for us to all of the justice system. He’s really been my hero because he’s really out there in the thick of it, and he does it with such a big heart.”

They meet on Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 1 p.m. at the Rogersville National Guard Armory, where most of the masks are distributed and contributions of fabric and elastic are dropped off.

This past Wednesday, they handed out masks to all law enforcement agencies in Hawkins County, including the sheriff’s office, which received 240.

Other recipients Wednesday included employees of the Hawkins County Rural Health Consortium, which received 280 — enough for each employee to have two masks.

Other masks went to county employees including staff at the offices of the county clerk, the property assessor, the election commission, the trustee, register of deeds and veterans services.

The other big recipient Wednesday was the Hawkins County judicial system, including all judges and their staffs, the attorney general’s office, the court clerks, and the various probation programs including community justice.

Next Wednesday is going to be another giant day, Weart said, because they’re taking care of the nursing homes.

Contributions can be delivered in person Wednesday and Friday at noon at the Rogersville armory or mailed to Weart i/c/o Project Serve Our Soldiers, 183 Manis Road, Rogersville, TN 37857. Anyone interested in volunteering or contributing can also call Weart at (407) 883-2036.

Any first responder, medical employee, or essential worker who comes into contact with the public is invited to request newly manufactured masks by calling Bill Hewitt 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.

Hewitt can also be contacted by emailing dogwood.wth@gmail.com.

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