Transportation Security Administration officers are among the many essential workers who know from experience the importance of wearing protective face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. When not working at the airport, several officers have been sewing masks for family, friends and first responders who may need them.
Officers such as Justine Waldron and Susan Schultz are working just as hard at home as they are at the airport. Waldron has made over 140 masks when not working at Barnstable Municipal Airport (HYA) on Cape Cod and helping her 11-year-old son with his homework.
Shultz, a supervisory officer at General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) in Milwaukee has made over 300 masks, staying up as late as midnight in order to provide the masks to her community.
Shultz began her endeavor after her daughter, who works for a senior advisement agency, informed her that many seniors needed masks. She joined her daughter and her daughter’s colleague to start making masks for the senior citizens.
After much practice, Shultz is now able to complete a mask within seven minutes. In addition to the elderly, Shultz gives her masks to caregivers, police officers and paramedics for free. Shultz says that she finds it to be “especially rewarding work when I find out who I’m helping.”
Waldron’s hand-washable masks have become a big hit among her family, friends and colleagues, with their color, lively patterns featuring Native American and navigation themes as well as comic book characters. She also uses color ribbons as fasteners rather than elastic bands to ensure comfort.
While Waldron pays for all of the materials out of pocket, she also gives her masks away for free. “Some people have tried to give me money, but that’s just not the right thing to do. We all need to stay healthy and get past [the pandemic].”
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