In efforts to combat the mask shortage occurring in hospitals locally and around the United States as of result of COVID-19, many residents in Story City are putting their sewing machines to work to help out.

This week, local sewing shop It’s Sew Tempting is asking residents to create fabric masks to assist Bethany Life who is currently seeking 200 masks. Regardless of skill-level, the masks are fairly easy to create, according to It’s Sew Tempting co-owner Eileen Fournier.

“We see this as an opportunity to fulfill a need in our medical and first responders area, and two, to also organize the community to do something to help them from worrying,” Fournier said.

To help those interested in creating the masks, the business has put together 25 kits available which include a six-by-nine piece of cotton fabric, a six-by-nine piece of cotton flannel, the piece of elastic needed to hold the mask together, and a link to the shop’s website where the free pattern is at, Fournier said.

“I’ve been just shocked,” Fournier said on the community’s response. “I’ve been answering phone calls in the shop, Facebook messages and texts; we had 35 shares on Facebook so for us it’s huge.

“It’s been just really awesome.”

Eight-year-old Julianne Schwartz, of Story City, sewed masks all day on Monday, according to mom Erin Schwartz. The family had planned a spring break trip to see family in Seattle prior to the COVID-19 outbreak hitting the city, and Julianne wanted to help, Schwartz said.

“My sister said in Seattle they’ve run out (of masks),” Schwartz said. “We’re trying to make a bunch now to actually send to Seattle so they can distribute what they can to hospitals in Seattle.

“We were going to give them to people we knew in local areas, but when we heard this from my sister, we thought we’re going to send some out there, too.”

After watching a six-minute tutorial online, Schwartz said Julianne was already on her 15th mask after beginning on Monday.

“We were trying to find a way to help at home,” Schwartz said. “We have family who have been closer to this whole process (in Seattle) and we’ve seen the effects of it through them; it’s hitting Iowa now, but we saw it a couple weeks ago in the Seattle area.

“These masks don’t take much time and it’s not anything too big, but it’s going to be something big for someone else. The littlest things you can find to help out is going to mean the world to someone else.”

Much like Schwartz, for those who have never created a mask before, the project is fairly easy, Fournier said.

“It is so simple,” Fournier said. “I do quilts, I don’t do apparel, so anything with tucks or pleats in it — it’s not for me. This has pleats in it technically and it’s not difficult, and I can do it.

“It’s definitely easy.”

After masks are finished, Fournier asks that masks be sealed in a plastic bag and can be dropped off in a bin sitting on the store’s front porch. Prior to being distributed at Bethany Life, the masks will be put on a quarantine to ensure masks are safe for use, Fournier said.

The store will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to Fournier.

“I just think this is very reminiscent, not like when any of us were around then, but this is like making bandages in World War I,” Fournier said. “The community involvement and wanting to do something to help just touches my heart and I’m just excited to be involved in it.”