Since its inception a little more than a week ago, the Williamson County Mask Brigade has been busy making between 2,000 to 3,000 cloth face masks. The group has two mask types that they are asking volunteers to make. The COVID Ranger Mask, which is to be worn over N95 masks by medical personnel and first responders, and the Safety Mask, which can be worn by nursing home residents and essential county workers who interact with the public. Williamson County EMS received 146 of the COVID Ranger masks today.
So far, 1,700 masks have been made with the help of volunteers led by District Judge Donna King. People from all walks of life have devoted their time and skills to work on producing the masks daily. One team of 140 volunteer workers from Celebration Church has contributed more than 2,100 hours toward this effort.
Stony Point High School engineering teacher Travis Claypool is among the many volunteers assisting Celebration Church. He is using his high-power laser cutter and computer system to crank out fabric cutting faster. Claypool is able to cut eight masks a minute, making the cutting aspect of mask production more efficient.
“Our family is a family of service, and we are fortunate to be able to give back and help folks where we can. I bought the machine because I enjoy making things as a hobby, but it feels great to be able to use it now to serve the community,” said Claypool.
About 250 Sun City residents, most of them members of a group called Sun City Fabric and Fiber, also have stepped up to the cause. In order to meet the demand, the volunteers created an assembly line with people assigned to different roles such as cutting, pleating the fabric, and sewing the masks together. Their goal is to create 2,000 masks a week.
“These [masks] go to the entities that we love and use like nursing homes and food banks. It’s really a good cooperative effort for the entire county,” said Sun City Fabric and Fiber President Jean Prouty.
The masks have been made possible with not only the help of county residents, but private businesses, too. Williamson County partnered with Reid’s Cleaners and Laundry to thoroughly wash, press and package the masks. Karl Schulte, owner of Reid’s Cleaners and Laundry, donated the labor.
“We have been working as a family since the beginning and finding innovative ways to meet the demand. This is a perfect example of what that collaboration looks like. I am thankful for Reid’s Cleaners and Laundry for their commitment to help us reduce the spread of the Coronavirus in Williamson County,” said Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell.
Williamson County will prioritize giving out the masks. The first to receive the COVID Ranger Masks will be Williamson County Sheriff’s Office law enforcement personnel, corrections officers, and Emergency Medical Services paramedics. Healthcare workers in COVID-19 response units also will receive the Ranger Masks. Safety masks will be available for nursing home residents and municipalities with the highest case count, followed by essential Williamson County workers. If more masks are available, they will be given to essential workers providing essential services.
For more information on joining the Mask Brigade, go to www.wilco.org/howcanIhelp.