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Local family making masks for healthcare workers, patients

By J.R. TIDWELL / Editor

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a great many changes that have affected everyday life.

Many people have been working to help out in any way they can.

For one Thorsby family, that meant switching from dolls to masks.

It all started a decade ago in 2010 when Judy Perkins made her first visit to a warehouse in Atlanta as part of her church’s, West End Baptist, work to help support Samaritan Purse’s Operation Christmas Child.

The ministry seeks volunteers and donations to pack shoeboxes with gifts and essential items to be handed out around the globe to children in need.

“I was disappointed in how empty some of the shoeboxes were,” Perkins said. “The Lord gave me an idea, and I found a diagram on how to make a ragdoll.”

So, Perkins set about collecting different colorful bits of fabric in order to make ragdolls for the shoeboxes.

Fast forward to 2020. Perkins, who regularly visits the Chilton County Jail and local nursing homes as part of her volunteer work, has found herself unable to do so as part of the stay-at-home and quarantine protocols brought forth by coronavirus.

“We realized our lifestyle will have to change — we’ll have to wear a mask,” Perkins said.

So, she decided to take the stockpile of material she has been building since 2012 and put it to “better use.”

Perkins found a diagram for making cloth face masks and has been turning them out with help from her daughter Jessica Patterson and grandson Draven.

A collection of masks made by Judy Perkins and her family.

As of April 16, they had passed the century mark and were working towards a goal of 150 masks.

“We have enjoyed it,” Perkins said. “It has been a blessing and gives us something to do during this quiet time.”

Perkins said it probably takes 30 minutes from start to finish to complete a mask, but the work is done in stages more like an “assembly line” between cutting, ironing and sewing the pieces together.

Perkins said she plans on donating the masks to St. Vincent’s Chilton and Hatley Health Care in Clanton.

“They turned out really cute some of them,” she said. “Some of the designs are whimsical. I think it will be fun for the patients.”

The only thing slowing down production has been shortages of different component materials.

Perkins said they bought out some supplies at local stores and have had to turn to ordering some items online.

She said she is happy the “Lord can use me even when I’m shut in.”

“When you are forced to be at home, you may feel helpless,” Perkins said. “But whenever you can fill a need of society, you feel blessed.”