Sew Together for COVID-19 donates nearly 3.5K masks
By Taylor J. Hale
STEVENS POINT – Spring break was different for students this year; instead of heading to tourist destinations, some locals stayed home and crafted protective masks to help slow the possible spread of the Coronavirus. Kelly Van Laanen, and her daughters Remington Wisinski, 17, and Allison Wisinski, 14, decided to take a stance and form an effort to help protect the community by spearheading Sew Together for COVID-19.
“Remington wanted to learn how to sew,” Van Laanen explained. “I showed her how to hand sew, and she began making stuffed animals. I saw a post about healthcare needing face masks and asked my girls if they wanted to learn how to sew the masks. They said yes, so we got busy.”
It takes a village
The proud mother took to social media to spread the word on the locally made masks and was soon overwhelmed by the amount of interest shown by the community.
After being messaged by community members, Van Laanen decided to make an official Facebook page for the sewing effort, with the help of locals Daylyn Hopp, Serena Sblendorio, and other volunteers. Sblendorio got involved when she donated her sewing machine to Van Laanen. She decided to help the local mother take the group to the next level.
“I have a strong professional background in marketing and social media, so I offered to help Kelly by creating a Facebook page,” Sblendorio said. “I named it Sew Together for COVID-19 because it sounded perfect to me, the community is ‘sewing together for COVID-19,’ and we do live in the best community ever, so I just thought it worked well.”
Hopp, a founding member, also found out about Van Laanen’s efforts online and decided to get involved.
“My sister in law is in the medical field in Boston,” Hopp explained. “I knew what was happening there in regards to medical professionals not having the equipment they needed, so my daughter and I started to make fabric masks. We found Kelly pretty quickly, and knew that working together would bring more success.”
The best community
Since the group’s origins in late March, they have made and donated over 3,400 masks to hospitals, nursing homes, first responders, and other people and organizations. The group also supplied masks for voters during the April 7 elections.
“We don’t have an official count of the number of people sewing because it is all done without personal contact. I know I have spoken to at least 35-40 of them, however, so at least that many,” Van Laanen said.
If a member doesn’t know how to sew, the group offers sewing lessons through FaceTime and other digital platforms.
Sew Together for COVID-19 does not charge for masks but accepts donations for material costs.
To donate, visit: https://www.facebook.com/sewtogethercovid19/.
Contact Taylor J. Hale at [email protected] with Portage County news and information.