Many people go about doing good deeds in their families, neighborhoods, organizations and church congregations. “Utah Valley’s Everyday Heroes” celebrates these unsung community members and brings to light their quiet contributions.
The North Utah Valley Making Masks group was formed on March 20, and after only three weeks has reached almost 700 members.
The group was founded by Pleasant Grove resident Lizzy Mildenhall who saw reports of mask shortages day after day and wanted to do something to help.
Mildenhall moved to Pleasant Grove with her husband and infant child almost a year ago after graduating from the Brigham Young University campus in Idaho.
After seeing posts from friends and family on social media detailing the need nurses and other health care workers have for protective masks, Mildenhall said she knew she had to do something.
“I felt very helpless in the fact that I don’t have a sewing machine or the things that I would need,” she said. “I was figuring there were people out there like me who wanted to be doing things but didn’t know how. Seeing things really made me want to get up and do something.”
The purpose of the group is to make and donate masks to those in need from Orem to Draper, especially first responders, nursing homes and other medical facilities.
Mildenhall said the group discovered fairly quickly that hospitals are not accepting donations of homemade masks, but they have partnered with a global organization that will help them make masks that can be used.
Stitching Hearts Worldwide has been working with Intermountain Healthcare, the University of Utah Hospital, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints charities, and other Utah nonprofits to put medical grade materials in the hands of sewers who can make masks and other protective products.
North Utah Valley Making Masks has been working with them for weeks and is preparing to start the second wave of the partnership’s pilot program where medical grade materials will be distributed to a handful of the group’s sewers who have volunteered to each make 100 masks within three to four days.
These masks will then be delivered to Stitching Hearts who will distribute them around the state, including to hospitals. Stitching Hearts has the goal of creating around 2 million masks for Utah.
The partnership has, however, spread the group’s sewers extremely thin as the sewers who volunteered to help Stitching Hearts will not be participating to fulfill other delivery requests while they work with the organization. Mildenhall said because of this, the group is always looking for more sewers.
When the North Utah Valley Making Masks group was initially founded, Mildenhall and a few volunteers, who have since agreed to be moderators, began working on outreach efforts to find locations in need of masks. Since then, the team has received daily donation requests from several different locations.
“They have been extremely helpful in organizing things and coordinating, and answering sewing questions that I wouldn’t know how to answer,” Mildenhall said about the moderators.
So far, the group has made and donated over 2,000 masks, and there are still about a dozen donation requests requiring about 2,000 more, Mildenhall said.
There are several different roles members can choose when they join the group, but they are always in need of sewers, she said. While Mildenhall understands that not everyone has the resources or skills to make the masks, she said she also knows this doesn’t keep people from wanting to help.
Within the group, there are options to donate items to sewers, to cut out the necessary patterns for the sewers, to sew the masks, or even to deliver the masks.
Runners have volunteered to deliver masks to identified locations on designated days — Mondays and Thursdays — as well as pick up and drop off materials to Mildenhall or other moderators who ensure the products get to cutters and sewers.
In the future, the group is looking to partner with other local groups to cater to organizations outside of its designated areas, which includes communities from Orem to Draper.
“We don’t reject any requests,” Mildenhall said. “We get a lot of requests for places in Provo and in Salt Lake, but we’re trying to partner with groups that might cover those areas more.”
Those who have the ability and want to get involved can request to join the group by answering three questions.