Sparking Action | Danielle LeTendre

Local Artist Does Her Part During COVID

What made you decide to help the community in this way?

During times of uncertainty, I find it’s best for me to lean into what I know how to do.  And what I know how to do, is sew.  I know how to sew fast and crank out products.  Initially, a friend reached out to ask if I could make masks for medical workers.  Although I knew I could sew a face mask, I was hesitant because didn’t have the usual medical grade materials.  But then the CDC altered their guidelines for PPE and hospitals and our local frontline workers were in real need of masks, even hand-sewn cloth face masks.  In my regular handmade business, I design all my own patterns.  Although face masks aren’t overly complicated, I looked up some popular patterns and the preferred requirements and started making prototypes with a few of my own alterations.  After getting feedback from friends in the medical field, I started sewing.  I’m currently at 800 and counting.

What ways can the community help you?

Although I sew for a living, I use upcycled materials and rarely use cotton, the preferred material for face masks.  When I put out a call to friends for donations of high-quality quilting cotton, our community answered.  Over 30 yards and counting have been donated to my mask making efforts.

What impacts have you seen on surrounding or similar businesses/nonprofits/individuals?

Like so many of my sewing friends, I rely on craft shows and markets for my livelihood.  With no markets in the foreseeable future, we all have had to refocus to online sales.  But as with most other businesses, things are slower and adaptation is key. So many of my sewing friends have started making masks for frontline and essential employees.  We have a skill set that is in need, and we all value what this community has given us.

What positive ways have you seen the small business/nonprofit/general community come together?

As this pandemic stretches on, and the economic impact is increasingly felt, it is incredible to see how many folks are coming together to support each other.  Local businesses are donating fabric and nonprofits and community members are funneling masks to those in need.  There are so many volunteer groups making masks and distributing them to the frontline and essential workers.

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