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Making masks and making a difference

One Brookhaven woman has found a way to make a difference throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gayle Ross is using her sewing skills to make masks. She’s made more than 2,400 so far.

“Most are made out of things I can find in Walmart,” Ross said.

Ross started making masks back in March when the pandemic first hit. King’s Daughters Medical Center was collecting masks for those in nursing homes. There didn’t seem to be enough masks to go around.

“The sewers of Lincoln County really pounced on this and they had made more masks than they knew what to do with,” Ross said.

She had been put in contact with Rev. Beth Foose at Grace Episcopal Church in Canton.

“It was a contact through a contact through a contact,” Ross said. “Everybody needed a mask and there was none available.”

Foose’s church and community was in desperate need of masks.

“I’m strictly production, she’s the management genius and distributor,” Ross said. “She takes them to food banks and senior citizen centers and distributes them to people that need them.”

For Ross, making masks helps to keep her busy, but it also helps her serve a bigger purpose.

“What else am I going to do at home?” Ross said. “I’m just an old hippie looking for another mission in life.”

Ross said she has enjoyed using her skills to help others.

“I’ve got the ability and the time to do it, it’s been kind of fun,” Ross said.

Her masks have been distributed through KDMC, her family and Foose.

“At first they were going through KDMC,” Ross said. “I sent a lot through my family to St. Catherine’s Retirement Community in Madison, too.”

Her brother in law is her “fabric angel,” who sells high-end fabric to his clients. He has access to swatches of fabric to provide customers with samples.

“He would give me bags of them,” Ross said. “A half a yard here, a half a yard there, that would make eight masks. I’ve been able to pull from a lot of different sources, but it’s nice to have someone give me some extra.”

Ross mails masks to Canton each week. She’ll mail around 100 at a time. She can make 20 in the span of a day.

“I’ll do a batch of 20 from the same fabric,” Ross said. “There’s something about having a project that makes things better. I just feel like I’m doing something good.”

Ross hopes this endeavor has been beneficial to those who have received masks.

“I hope it’s helped people,” Ross said. “At the very start, I felt like we were making a difference. There weren’t masks available for those who needed them. Now I feel like the need is out there and we might be helping half of them. But I do feel like we’re making a difference.”