Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Katie Teachout
Ritzville Adams County Journal 

Seamstresses pitch in for public safety

Hutterites join effort to make masks


Special to The Odessa Record

East Adams Rural Healthcare employees Erin Rabic, Dorcey Hunt and Brandy Lane try on hand-made cloth masks from seamstresses and Hutterite colonies in southern Lincoln County.

RITZVILLE — Area seamstresses have been sewing fast and furiously to get cloth masks donated to area hospitals, medical facilities, senior centers and other organizations.

Their work has also been provided to the Adams County Sheriff's Office, gas stations, U.S. Postal Service and grocery stores for use during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dorcey Hunt, an East Adams Rural Healthcare physical therapist, said she saw a Facebook post by Odessa's Kelsey Scrupps asking for help collecting masks made by volunteers, and dove right in.

She started sewing, too, with donations of fabric and elastic.

"It just kind of snowballed," Hunt said. "I had fabric and elastic coming from everyone," she said. "And Kelsey (Scrupps) got connected with the Hutterite communities, who popped out 600 of them."

Scrupps said it began when she saw a post by Deaconess Hospital in Spokane asking for masks, with a pattern.

"It started with just four of us," Scrupps said. "Then I shared a post online, and there were about 15 of us in the community working on them.

"We did between 200–250 in a couple days. Then, I contacted some friends affiliated with both Hutterite colonies and asked them to rally them. In a couple of days, over 1500 masks were made."

The Stahl Hutterites are located between Moses Lake, Ritzville and Odessa; and the Marlin Hutterites are located about 15 miles west of Odessa.

Scrupps said masks have been delivered to Kootenai Hospital in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; hospitals and clinics in Davenport, Ritzville and Odessa; three clinics in Moses Lake; a couple nursing homes in Western Washington and a nursing home in Spokane Valley.

Samaritan Healthcare Executive Director of Development and Communications Gretchen Youngren said she received more than 500 masks from the Odessa group.

The masks have been distributed throughout the Samaritan system.

"It was a wonderful surprise," she said. "We put out an announcement last Friday that we would accept them, along with a tutorial on how to make them on the hospital website, and the community came out in droves and have been dropping off masks day after day."

Youngren said Samaritan is part of Grand Columbia Healthcare Alliance with partners in Moses Lake, Ritzville, Odessa, Coulee, Quincy, Othello and Ephrata.

"So, there could come a point where they could receive some, as a way of sharing resources," she said, noting they weren't out of medical-grade masks, but were preserving those for frontline medical staff.

"We want them to be wearing the medical grade masks, as well as some of our sickest patients," Youngren said. "So, these cloth masks are excellent. We can distribute those to visitors and employees who might not be in the frontline of care but still need them for protection during this COVID-19 outbreak."

Protecting others

"I have a lot of friends and family members who are nurses, and I can't imagine having to go into work and not have protection," Scrupps said. "This is something I can do, and I can do it from home."

Scrupps said she was now hoping to donate masks to "essential workers," people who have to continue to work.

"I'm going to start giving them to grocery store workers and anyone else still working who want them," Scrupps said. "As long as I still have supplies, I will continue to give to people who need them."

Hunt said the effort just keeps growing.

"I think we we're caught up with the medical staff for now, so we're trying to get them to the random groups. I just mailed eight packages to different places," Hunt said. "It just keeps expanding, because of social media.

"They've gone a little bit of everywhere."

Hunt said recent donations were to elderly people to wear to the store, and home care workers.

"We keep getting requests, mostly from Facebook and people I don't know. Out of the packages I mailed today, I only knew one person; a friend of a friend in Quincy," Hunt said. "The biggest package is going to the Philippines. It's just kind of blown up."

Hunt said another pile of elastic was waiting for her on her desk at the hospital.

"People leave fabric on their porches for me to swing by and pick up, and the quilt shop in Odessa loaned us mats to cut fabric on," she said.

"All of the elastic in the area shops was sold out," Scrupps added. "So, we've been getting elastic mailed from Canada. It's really great to see everyone come together."

Hunt said a friend gave her a pattern to make fabric ties instead of elastic, but it is a lot more time-consuming.

"I hadn't sewn since elementary school, so those ones were taking me an hour per mask," Hunt said. "I was really glad when I got my hands on some elastic."

Grateful sheriff

Odessa Memorial Healthcare Center

Kelsey Scrupps, left, provides 500 hand-sewn masks to Odessa Memorial Healthcare Center's Infection Control Director Diana Finkbeiner, RN.

Adams County Sheriff Dale Wagner said he was really glad to get his hands on some masks.

"Yvonne Anderson used to work for us as a Civil Deputy volunteer, and she donated a bunch. Two of my guys are wearing them right now, out on a call," Wagner said Friday evening. "We have to wear them right now, so we were really grateful for them."

Anderson said she made 32 for the Sheriff's Office after employee Bobbi Hunt reached out to her.

Anderson said as a quilter, she had plenty of fabric on hand and experience sewing.

"The people at the Sheriff's Office obviously have a special place in my heart, and their safety is important to me," Anderson said.

"This morning my sister, an emergency room nurse in Oregon, said they are making pockets in the mask to slide filters in," Hunt said. "We're not that advanced yet, but I think it will continue to morph into what we need."

Author Bio

Katie Teachout, Editor

Katie Teachout an editor with Free Press Publishing. She is the editor of The Ritzville Adams County Journal. Previously, she worked as a reporter at The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle, the Oroville Gazette-Tribune, Northern Kittitas County Tribune and the Methow Valley News. She is a graduate of Western Washington University.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 5096591020
Contact Katie Teachout


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