With a schedule that would exhaust the youngest of us, 77-year-old “Peggy” has been spreading joy in a most practical way. Between her commitment to the Minnesota Nikkei Project and her time running the shop at the Aŋpétu Téča Education Center, it is a wonder she has found the time for her largest projects: sewing masks for Catholic Charities.
When the COVID pandemic first began, retired volunteer Peggy heard from one of her neighbors that Catholic Charities was in need of cloth masks to distribute to residents and guests throughout our facilities. In 2020, Peggy sewed over 1,700 masks that she donated to Catholic Charities. Since then, she estimates she’s made nearly 3,500 in total. Not all have gone to Catholic Charities, however. Peggy constructed masks for friends, family, and even carries a stash in her purse to give to anyone she might run into who might be in need! Her care doesn’t stop there—she does not accept any money, instead asking patrons pay it forward in any way that makes a difference.
While Peggy makes her masks in batches, she estimates that each mask takes about half an hour to make. Between cutting the fabric, hot gluing the nose piece, and sewing the straps, each mask is an individual project. At this point, she has even started to work on smaller masks for children as well! (You might like to know these are an even quicker turnaround!)
As the pandemic caused such an abrupt halt to regular life, Peggy started sewing masks to keep herself busy.. She says the project saved her during this time, giving her a sense of purpose. “At the height of the pandemic I treated making the masks like a job. I worked on masks almost every day to keep busy and engaged. Now I have other volunteer commitments that keep me from spending the hours working on them, but I still make a point to donate 80-100 every few weeks.”
Editor’s Note: Catholic Charities is grateful to donors and volunteers like Peggy for their gifts that continue to keep all of us safe. At this time, guests and staff are still masking up in all of our facilities and the need for masks is still ongoing. Please follow Peggy’s lead and support everyone’s safety by donating masks, homemade or otherwise, to our Distribution Center at 341 Chester Street in St. Paul. For more volunteer opportunities, please visit the volunteer page on our website. Thank you!