As coronavirus cases continue to soar in the United States, local hospitals face a lot more challenges. Nonetheless, more people are making immense efforts to help the country fight the pandemic.
A perfect exemplar of the growing generosity and compassion of Americans is Debra Siggins, a 55-year-old woman from Iowa. As a way of helping the residents in their community, she is giving away free masks which she hangs in a “giving tree.”
Siggins knows how difficult it is to buy protective masks nowadays and there is a shortage almost everywhere in the country. This is why when she learned that one of her local hospitals was calling out for mask donations, she thought of making some masks at home.
At first, her goal was to make 100 masks but because her family and friends also wanted them, she ended up making over 400 masks. She donated her first batch of creations to UnityPoint St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids.
Siggins kept making masks to help other local hospitals as well as the residents in her area. Because she loves knitting, she enjoyed every bit of it. She wanted to make use of her time at home and use her craft to help people during the crisis.
“I just felt like [my knitting] is a gift that I could put it towards other people because it’s a gift that God has given me,” Siggins said.
Instead of handing the masks to everyone who needs them, she thought it would be better to just hang them in a tree which she called “giving tree.” This is the best way for her to maintain social distancing practices while still helping her neighbors. “It was hard to reach everybody, so I just put on Facebook that I had a mask tree,” she added.
Apart from knitting, Siggins also love decorating so she really takes pleasure in hanging the free masks on the tree. She said it’s just like adorning the tree with ornaments for Christmas and Easter.
Siggins’ giving tree usually holds 30 homemade masks at a time and are first-come, first-serve. She covers all the materials for the masks and continues to work on different designs and patterns. “It was really cool to see people driving up, grabbing a mask and leaving. It’s been a hit.”
Siggins also feels happy about being a giver, instead of a taker during this pandemic, which means she is blessed and healthy enough to help others.
Apart from neighbors and local hospitals, Siggin also gave away free masks to her co-workers, grocery employees, her local fire department and to the elderly patients at her workplace.
Siggins aim to continue making and giving away free masks as long as her community needs them.
If there’s a mask shortage in your area but you’re not a fan of sewing, you can make your own mask using a scarf, a handkerchief or even a shirt. With just a bit of cutting and folding, you’ll be able to create your own protective mask. You will also need rubber bands or hair ties which you can easily find at home.
There’s a lot of shortage when it comes to protective gear so our last resort is to use the resources we have at hand. However, if you have the materials for sewing and can make homemade masks, you may follow Siggins’ steps and make your own “giving tree.”