Utica steps up to the plate with mask donations

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Photo provided by Kim Landon

Nick McAdam, Sports Editor

It has been over a month since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. While masks were originally reserved to health care workers and patients, Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently ordered the general public to wear face masks at all times when going outdoors.

The call-to-action has prompted folks from across the United States to make masks for others in need although it has also trickled down to members of the Utica College community; stretching the barriers of those willing to help in their local communities, and ultimately attempting to make a change on a global scale.

Class and Affinity Reunions Coordinator Kim Landon has quickly turned one of her hobbies into something impactful.

“I was inspired because I like to sew, usually quilts, and that kind of thing,” Landon said. “I like to give away what I make, so the masks were a perfect project for me. But I was also looking for a way to keep busy and to give back while staying at home.”

So far, Landon has been providing masks to her family and friends. Her plans involve making enough to donate to residents in need.

Landon has a lot of materials at her disposal over the years of collecting them at fabric stores and bins of random threads that she happened to have.

“Unfortunately, so many people began making masks when Joanne’s Fabric gave away kits nationwide that elastic became as scarce as toilet paper,” she said. “So I learned first to make them with ties made from strips of t-shirt material.  I’ve since been able to get elastic from a quilting friend in South Carolina, but I like the ones with ties better.”

After collecting materials, it’s up to the individual to learn and create whatever pattern they want to complete, Landon said.

“There are probably a dozen different patterns out there with just small differences between them,” Landon said. “I tried a few but settled on one recommended by a former student, Cindy Bauer Hoffman, whose daughter is now attending UC. It’s from Keepsake Quilting.”

Landon is taking part in a community with organizations such as the Mohawk Valley Quilt Club and the Tiger Lily Quilt Co. to sew a total of 20,000 masks; a recent initiative provided by both the Mohawk Valley Health System and the Bassett Healthcare Network.

According to the Observer-Dispatch, companies in the Oneida County region have attributed 50 workers to rush to meet a quota of 1,500 masks to support those in the healthcare industry.

Landon, simply put, is a part of a network of folks in Utica and the surrounding areas stepping up to the plate and giving back to the community. She notes that every thread of fabric has a story and promises those working to sew masks are making quality for those on the frontlines. 

Those willing to make a donation of masks going forward are asked to call (315) 624-5574, the Mohawk Valley Health Organization number, or at mv.healthsystem/coronavirus for more information on what can be done to help.


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