The Miami County Quilters’ Guild cannot meet because of a statewide stay-at-home order.

But that doesn’t mean members aren’t doing their part to help out during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Guild members have been working behind the scenes to make protective masks for medical professionals and first responders.

“I know there are a number of members in our Guild who are wanting to make some and have been making them at home,” Guild President Ruthe Goff said. “We don’t want to recommend just one mask, there are all kinds out there.”

Medical professionals were concerned about masks with elastic, Goff said.

“Elastic is kind of iffy because it has latex in it, and you have to be careful of allergies,” Goff said. “So now they (mask-makers) are using a bias tape that can be tied.”

Since Guild members cannot meet to make the masks they are working with Jenny Latendresse, owner of Li’l Red Hen Quilt Shop, which is serving as a drop point for the masks. The shop is located at 7 S. Agate St. in Paola.

“I’m happy to take drop-offs from whoever is making them,” Latendresse said. “I just give them to the Guild to let them disperse them as they see a need for them.”

The Guild is currently in the production and collection phase of the operation. The Guild has been in touch with some medical facilities to determine where to best distribute the masks, Goff said.

Ruth Fladung, a member of The Louisburg Tonics Granny Basketball team, answered the call when the team’s coach, Kate Berg Camp, made an appeal for masks for first responders. Camp’s husband is an Olathe firefighter. The Tonics are comprised of members from Louisburg, Olathe, Bucyrus, Linn Valley and rural Drexel, Mo.

Fladung, of Louisburg, made a dozen masks in Kansas City Royals, U.S. Air Force and flower patterns. Without interruption, she said it takes about 20 minutes for her to make each mask. She also is using the bias tape because of the problem with elastic.

“Some have been made for the sheriff, and the police and the fire departments,” Fladung said. “There’s a bunch of us out here doing this.”

On Thursday, March 26, Louisburg Fire Chief Gerald Rittinghouse went to Fladung’s home to pick up masks she was donating to the department on behalf of the Granny Basketball team.

“We’re going to use them in our tornado shelter for when people come in we don’t have to delay getting them to a safe spot,” Rittinghouse said. “So we’re just going to give each individual a mask and allow them to (access) the tornado shelter in the basement” of the fire station on Metcalf Road in Louisburg.”

Rittinghouse said he greatly appreciates the donated masks. He said the donation is very important because masks are in limited supply at the moment. The fire department put in an order for N95 medical masks.

“We ordered like 3,000 and we ended up only getting 300,” Rittinghouse said.

Fladung plans to continue sewing more masks.

“Hopefully this will be over before too long,” she said.

Members of the Osa-Lane Stitchers group of the Osawatomie and Lane area also would like to start making the masks.

“Once we have the materials, we are more than willing to help,” Marilynn Lolley, the group’s secretary, said.

The Miami County Quilters’ Guild has a Facebook group and will continue to provide updates to its members, Goff said.

“We’re going to do our best just to stay healthy and get back to our meeting time together,” Goff said. “(The coronavirus situation) is so fluid it’s hard to keep up with it, almost. Our Guild is trying to do what we can, because that’s what we do.”

News Editor Doug Carder can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or doug.carder@miconews.com.

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