As time has gone on as part of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more emphasis has been placed on the recommendation to wear masks in public settings.

In fact, some places are requiring them.

The challenge those in medical and emergency management are facing is finding enough of those masks to meet that mandate. So, calls have been coming from a number of different locales asking the public for help.

Many have responded, including a member of the Redwood Valley High School senior class.

Her name is Abby Gilk, and she is spending time each day sewing cloth masks.

The idea of making masks actually started with Gilk’s mom.

“My mom wanted to make some masks for her and the ladies at her office,” Gilk explained, “so she showed me how and I made one for myself.”

That is when Gilk got the idea of making more masks, especially for those who don’t know how or don’t have the means to sew one for themselves.

Gilk said her mom found a pattern, and then she got busy making them.

According to Gilk, the masks she is making have elastic that goes around the head and are made from 100 percent cotton material. 

They also have an opening in the back portion of the mask that allows for the insertion of a filter. She also added a wire on the top of the mask to allow for a better fit around the nose.

Gilk added she is making them because there is a high demand for them not only in the health industry but also for the general public. The filter opening she includes make them a more effective mask and one she can donate to those who need them in the medical field.

Sewing is not a new thing for Gilk. She started sewing more seriously after her sophomore year in high school, but much of what she had done up to that point had been easier projects. Then for prom during her junior year she made her own dress.

The masks Gilk is making are going to those who order them from her. She is also donating some of them.

“People contact me through Facebook messenger mostly,” said Gilk, who works on them every day after she is finished with school.

When she is making masks, Gilk said she does a number of them at a time.

According to Gilk, it takes her an afternoon to make 15-20 masks, adding the more she has done it the better and more efficient she has become.

“At first I could only make 10 in that time,” she explained.

Gilk added much of the fabric she has been using is material she already had.

At first, she was using elastic she already had, but then she had to start buying it.

“It’s really hard to find elastic right now, because the demand has caused a big shortage,” explained Gilk.

Gilk sells her masks for $10 each, or $8 for orders of more than one. The money goes toward the cost of the materials, with some of it used to make the masks she donates. Any funding she may make in the end will go toward her college fund, added Gilk.

Gilk said after she had reached the milestone of making 60 masks she stopped counting.

Those who would like to order a mask can do so on Facebook, or they can call her at (507) 430-9321.

“I love to sew,” Gilk explained, adding this is something she plans to do for the rest of her life.

According to Gilk, with everything she is missing out on because she is not going to school it is nice to have something useful to fill her days.

“It’s given me a sense of purpose during these hard times because of the virus,” she added.