Local teacher along with mother, provide aid during pandemic by creating homemade masks
MACON, MO -- For Megan Pollard, an elementary school teacher at Macon R-1, along with her mother Janina Snell, a professional tailor, the current shortage of masks during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic presented a unique opportunity for the mother and daughter to utilize their resources and talent to make a difference. "As a teacher and someone who is very active in numerous organizations in the community, I’m always busy. I also love to help others in need. It just seemed like the right thing for both of us to do. We have the resources and talent (my mom way more than me). It truly makes my heart happy to know that we’re helping others during this crazy time," stated Pollard. Besides sewing masks, Ms. Pollard who is a 5th grade teacher at Macon R-1, teaches online as the Macon R-1 School District along with all Missouri schools, are currently closed due to the virus forcing classroom instruction to go virtually.
Recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that Americans wear a mask when out in public, to help in slowing the spread of the virus. For Pollard and Snell, requests for their homemade masks have only increased after inventory from conventional sources like Walmart and other retail chains find their shelves empty, coupled with the recent recommendation from the CDC. According to Ms. Pollard, they have made several hundred masks that have been shipped to numerous states such as Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Illinois, Iowa, and more! "Our biggest order is for 300 masks to be mailed to the United States Air Force 97th Civil Engineer Squadron in Altus, Oklahoma. We are sewing as fast as our hands and machines will allow," stated Megan Pollard. In the end, when asked about possible profits from their efforts, Pollard recalled that they have asked only for donations. She went on to state, "The goal was to have some fun and raise money to help us keep doing what we’re doing. We want to get these masks to as many people that need them. If, and that’s a big if, at the end of all of this, there is any money left over it will go directly to Ewenique Stitches so that my mom may keep her business open since it has been hit hard by the effects of the pandemic."
Most recently, Pollard was the winner of two $50 gift certificates from the Macon Area Chamber of Commerce after the Chamber unveiled their #MaconLemonade campaign which looks to highlight local acts of kindness during this trying time. Pollard stated to the paper that one of her $50 gift certificates will be headed to the Randy Johnson Memorial Fund which is a local charity that raises money to provide financial assistance to those who are impacted by cancer.
Our full interview with Megan Pollard:
The Home Press: What made you start making masks?
Megan Pollard: "My mom! My mom, Janina Snell, owns Ewenique Stitches in Kirksville. She has been a professional tailor her whole life. She has a degree in Clothing and Textiles from Northeast Missouri State University. At her business, she does custom sewing and alterations. In addition, a large part of her business is making Greek apparel for Truman State University. When Truman went to strictly online courses, her workload decreased significantly. She saw that there was a need for cloth masks, so she began making them. She uploaded a picture to her Facebook page that indicated she was making them and giving them to those who needed them, nurses, first responders, immune compromised, etc. I shared her post, as well as a lot of other people. Requests began flooding our posts, email, and phones. Therefore, I decided to help! As a teacher and someone who is very active in numerous organizations in the community, I’m always busy. I also love to help others in need. It just seemed like the right thing for both of us to do. We have the resources and talent (my mom way more than me). It truly makes my heart happy to know that we’re helping others during this crazy time."
The Home Press: What material do you use? Did you learn it from someone? How long does it take to make one mask?
Megan Pollard: "We use 100% cotton material with elastic or ties. Mom found a couple patterns online and that’s what we’ve been using. From start to finish, with no interruptions, it takes 5-7 minutes to take one mask."
The Home Press: How many masks have you made so far?
Megan Pollard: "Combined, we have made over 350 masks. The orders keep coming in and we literally have hundreds to make. Our biggest order is for 300 masks to be mailed to the United States Air Force 97th Civil Engineer Squadron in Altus, Oklahoma. We are sewing as fast as our hands and machines will allow!"
The Home Press: How many people have you distributed to?
Megan Pollard: "I am not sure exactly how many people we have distributed to. They have been distributed in Missouri, Iowa, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas, and Illinois. In Missouri they have gone to the following cities and numerous surrounding towns: Kirksville, Macon, Columbia, Mexico, Jefferson City, Moscow Mills, Nixa, St. Louis, Lexington, and Marshall. Masks have been made in large quantities for Weller Place, Miller-Rexall, Lolli’s, and The Pines in Kirksville."
The Home Press: Any profits or donations for your efforts? If you don’t mind us asking.
Megan Pollard: "We have only asked for donations. Many people have wanted to pay. 100% of all proceeds have gone toward purchasing more supplies and to mail masks. This weekend we decided to do a fun raffle. We have 4 masks up for bid: Chiefs, Royals, Cardinals, and Blues. Starting bid was $5 with increments of $1. The goal was to have some fun and raise money to help us keep doing what we’re doing. We want to get these masks to as many people that need them. If, and that’s a big if, at the end of all of this, there is any money left over it will go directly to Ewenique Stitches so that my mom may keep her business open since it has been hit hard by the effects of the pandemic. As we all know, small businesses are suffering yet it’s the small businesses that help that are usually the first to help their communities in the greatest times of need."
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