BTV Residents Sew Hundreds of Masks During the Pandemic

Community Minded Residents put Talents to Work

March 2020 is only six short months ago, but it can feel like an eternity. In those early days of the coronavirus pandemic, no one knew exactly what was going on or how long it would last.   

Hospitals and doctors were experiencing a shortage of N95-type face masks needed for protection against the virus, making it hard for everyone else to find masks of their own.

A number of Butterfield residents leapt into action, organizing and collaborating with their neighbors to sew hundreds of face masks to share with Village residents and others in the community.   

Ardith Wharry was one such resident. A master quilter, Ardith possesses a sizable trove of fabrics and sewing materials needed for such a project. She turned out to be the perfect person for the job.

“After checking out a YouTube video on how to make face masks, I collaborated with (resident) Marian Catron and we decided on an efficient way to make them,” Ardith said. After receiving a donation of pipe cleaners from the Sunday School department of her church and ordering some elastic from Amazon, they were ready to go.

“We began to make ‘just a few’ to meet the immediate need,” Ardith said. “One day there was a rush request so my neighbor, Linda Pinkerton, my husband Richard Wharry and I created an assembly line and got busy. By morning, we were able to offer twenty-four masks.”

Word started to catch on at the Village, and as the operation grew other residents got involved, including Annette Penney and Karen Hendrix. In the next few months what started as a small group making “just a few” masks evolved into a virtual mask-making factory, pumping out more than 200 masks.

In a parallel operation, resident Linda Hayes, an artist and retired teacher, started out sewing disposable masks using heavy-duty paper napkins. But she has since switched to fabric to tap into her deep well of supplies. Linda has made more than 175 masks. 

Ardith’s masks are made with three pieces of cotton, a pipe cleaner and elastic to fit over the ears. They are washable and dryable and come in many colors and patterns. “One may have a wardrobe of face masks, a different unique print for every day of the week.” Ardith said. “Fashionable to say the least.”

If you find yourself in need of a new mask, all you have to do is ask.

“I keep quite a few on hand and will make more if there is a request should they be needed.” Ardith said. “My fabric stash is large.”