Ask ELi: How’s the Mask-Sewing Crew Doing?

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Retired police officer Jon Wicks has been ironing to help out his wife, former East Lansing City Clerk Marie Wicks, as she sews masks for people all over.

An ELi reader wrote in to ask how the Peppermint Creek Theater Company musical fundraiser did for the local army of sewists making masks and other protective gear. The reader wrote, “How about a follow-up story? How much did it raise? How is the money to be spent? Who were the most popular performers? (I think mine was Sharriese!)”

We don’t have an answer on which performer was the most popular, but we can report that the event raised about $6,100 according to Jessy Gregg, owner of Seams fabric store in downtown East Lansing and community sewist organizer (and City Council member as of last November).

“Right now,” says Gregg, “we’re estimating that our group has distributed over 15,000 masks in the Mid-Michigan area, and that was before we received the check from Peppermint Creek.”

Of the funds raised, about $3,800 is going to buy more fabric, $625 was spent on a bulk order of elastic, and $1,500 has been put to rent and overhead for the time Seams has been closed. The remainder is being held for additional expenses of the project.

The group has also received about $2,500 in additional donations from the community. “That has been spent on elastic, twill tape, thread, sewing machine needles and rotary cutter blades,” explains Gregg, “to keep everyone supplied with what they need to keep sewing.” 

Masks ready for distribution.

Gregg tells ELi, “The infusion of money means that we are able to purchase supplies instead of relying on donated supplies, which required a lot of sorting, grading, washing, etc. This infusion of money has allowed us streamline things in a way that will make it much easier for the project to continue as long as there is a need.” 

The group is still responding to requests from local nurses and assisted living facilities, “but right now the bulk of masks that we’re collecting are going to social service organizations doing outreach to minorities and low income communities,” Gregg explains. “I’m working with the Racial Disparities Outreach team from the Ingham County Health Department, the Refugee Development Center, Cristo Rey Community Center, and Michigan Community Action among others.” 

Former East Lansing City Clerk Marie Wicks is a member of the dispersed community sewing response team. She sews while her husband Jon Wicks – retired from serving for 26 years as a police officer in the Meridian Township Police Department – assists with the ironing required in production.

Wicks says she has made somewhere north of 230 masks.

“I’ve donated 40 to the Meridian Township Fire Department and we’re about to take 20 masks over to the cadet desk at Meridian for non-uniformed employees,” she told ELi earlier today. “I also made seven masks for the East Lansing City Clerk’s office staff. I’ve sent masks to California, Florida, Nevada, Tennessee, Ann Arbor, Traverse City and Detroit. Oh, and Ypsilanti!”

Gregg works chiefly on distribution of materials, instructions, and finished products.

A reader asked how the Peppermint Creek fundraiser for the army of sewists worked out. We bring the answer and an update on the production of homemade masks.
Jessy Gregg in a selfie, shown on her way to deliver finished masks.

“Some people are arranging their own donations [of finished material], but most of the masks are coming back to me,” Gregg explains. She distributes them at no charge from there.

The newly purchased fabric and elastic is being packaged into kits for volunteer sewists.

If people want to compensate the group for the finished product, the volunteers ask simply that a donation be made to Seams or to a food bank.

If you want to make a financial contribution to this work, you can send a donation via PayPal.

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