Quilters guild sews face masks for local groups

By Jason Evans

Staff Reporter

PICKENS — A local group has been providing area nonprofits, charities and other organizations with masks to protect against COVID-19.

Linda Cassell is a member of the UpCountry Quilters Guild in Pickens.

“Normally we do things like make blankets and quilts for Manna and places like that,” she said. “Hope Women’s Center was our project last year.”

In recent weeks, the guild has made “over 1,500, maybe as many as 2,000 masks,” she said.

“Somebody called and asked us since we sewed if we could do that,” Cassell said. “The whole guild worked on it. We made lots of masks.”

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, masks were hard to come by, she said.

Cassell said guild member Donna Anderson was the chief nursing officer at AnMed Health Cannon Hospital for a long time.

“She had lots of people contacting her,” Cassell said. “Donna Anderson really started the whole thing. It really just started with Cannon saying they really needed them.”

Anderson said the UpCountry Quilting Guild tries to identify a community need and fill it every year.

“Although our guild had already decided on a community project, it became clear that there was a more urgent need in our community — face masks to protect against the spread of COVID-19,” she said.

There were not enough medical-grade masks available in our community, Anderson said.

During this shortage, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had published guidelines regarding fabric masks, she said.

The guild’s seamstresses volunteered their time, talent, fabric and supplies over the past three and a half months, Anderson said.

Organizations and groups that requested and received masks were AnMed Health Cannon Hospital, the School District of Pickens County, Army Reserve members who were deployed to COVID-19 hotspots in New England, the Pickens County Board of Disabilities and Special Needs, the Pickens County Shelter of Hope, local speech therapists, the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, Pickens County EMS, the Pickens County Emergency Operations Center, the Pickens County Library System and Family Promise of Pickens County.

Some of the organizations continue to request masks to fulfill ongoing needs, Anderson said.

“Hopefully we protected some people and helped stop the spread in Pickens,” Cassell said.

The UpCountry Quilters Guilds meets monthly at Pickens Presbyterian Church.