Masks are becoming a common item to see when going out, especially now that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has suggested that anyone going out should wear one. Recently, Gov. Tim Walz sent out a call for help from all Minnesotans, as masks are quickly becoming a hard to get item. He asked that residents make masks for those vulnerable to COVID-19. These completed masks should be delivered to local fire departments.

One family in Watertown has been hard at work making masks already, and planned to donate their masks to the Watertown Fire Department in April 25.

“I’m very proud to see my family play a part,” said Angie Hartshorn, whose family has been working hard to make masks and who works at the Watertown Veterinary Clinic. “It’s been primarily my mother and grandmother, but everyone is doing their part.”

Hartshorn’s family has been making masks since before Walz made his call to action. Her mother, Jean Buehl, and grandmother, Delores Dudek, have been working to create masks for a couple weeks already. Buehl is a local seamstress, so she has the experience to create the masks while Dudek flips them and prepares them for donation. So far, the duo have made over 300 masks, and are planning to make them all the way up to donation time on April 25.

It’s not just Hartshorn’s mother and grandmother, either. Her father, George Buehl, is also participating. Mr. Buehl has his own 3-D printer, and has been using it to make mask clips to help keep them on. Hartshorn’s children, Madelyn and Ben, have gotten in on the fun as well, making kids masks.

With many families doing something similar, supplies have been tight. Thankfully, because Mrs. Buehl is a seamstress, she has plenty of spare fabric for making the bulk of the mask. Mr. Buehl also has supplies on reserve for his printer.

There’s only been one difficult supply chain: elastic.

“Elastic has been the hardest to find so far,” said Hartshorn. “Luckily, we’ve had a lot of people donating.”

The elastic has been coming in random designs, but so far that’s been part of the fun. The family is actually full on elastic, as well as fabric, plastic, and everything else they’ve been using. All of them thank the community for their support for this project, and their generosity is going to a good cause.

The masks being donated to the fire departments around the state will be going to essential businesses that need them. Those include senior living facilities and other group homes. The masks aren’t just for the workers, but the residents as well to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible during this pandemic.

So far, the Buehls and Hartshorns have donated to the Watertown Veterinary Clinic, Westwood Place, Auburn Homes in Waconia and Chaska, and St. Mary’s Care Center, who are all having difficulty getting masks. Some of their donations have even made their way down to Texas, helping some family members down there who are essential workers.

While masks do help, a reminder that they don’t make you completely immune to COVID-19. Keep an eye out for symptoms including fever and cough before going out, with or without a mask.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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