Making masks to help the community, islanders work together

April 10, 2020
By Marcy Shortuse

BY OLIVIA CAMERON – With increasing Coronavirus cases in the U.S., officials are recommending mask wearing when in public or at work. Essential workers have boosted safety precautions and it is encouraged that those at home should do the same.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using a cloth face covering as opposed to  stocking up on  surgical masks that would be better utilized in a medical environment. Since essential workers are low on supplies, a few islanders have taken matters into their own hands.

Brittany Love, of Love & Perry Photography in Boca Grande, is one of the many island mask makers.

“I had a friend in Seattle who posted a link to a hospital calling for seamstresses to help,” she said.

The request inspired her to sew face covers for local nursing homes. While she was only able to distribute to a select few homes, recommendations began to change.

The staff at Scarpa’s Coastal making masks

After officials began to request the use of cloth face covers for the public, Brittany promoted her masks on Facebook and was met with vast interest. She continues to sew masks for the island and is glad to aid in flattening the COVID-19 curve. For more information or questions regarding adult and child sized masks, Brittany can easily be reached through Facebook messenger.

Ashley Scarpa, co-owner of Scarpa’s Coastal restaurant, recruited the help of a few employees to aid the public as well. As the owner of Grande Stitches, her needlepoint and textiles business above the restaurant, she has been equipped with the supplies to make it happen.

She began mask sewing for the crew of both restaurant locations, on the island and Scarpa’s Italian in Lakeland, while they worked to-go orders. Now, her masks have gained popularity among the locals.

“We’re making three-layered masks, with cotton on the outside,” said Ashley. “The third layer is a tightly woven fabric that makes it difficult to penetrate.”

With more than 300 mask requests, Ashley had no choice but to enlist the help of her employees. They are sewing for donations. Scarpa’s can be reached for inquiry at 964-0806.

The CDC also details a way to create your own mask at home with a step-by-step procedure on their website. The tutorial features two different ways put together a face cover, and reminds the public that these masks are reusable after a spin in the wash.