As is the case in several states across the country, American Legion Owen Barrett Post 110 in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., has been forced to shutter its normal activities because of a stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus pandemic.
And like many other American Legion posts, Post 110 has decided to do something to help slow the spread of the disease. For the past two weeks, the post’s American Legion Family has been teaming up with VFW Auxiliary Unit 3033 and members of the community to provide cloth masks for local healthcare providers.
Three-term Post 110 Commander Rich Young said word got back to the post that staff at McLaren Central Michigan were running low on masks. The suggestion was made to team up with Unit 3033 to collect the necessary materials to construct the masks and then solicit assistance from the community to sew them.
Young said Post 110 deciding not to help out in some way during the pandemic “is not us. We’re a community organization. We saw a need and we stepped up.”
Through Project Protective Masks 2020, Post 110 solicits donations for the materials needed to put the masks together. “We’ve had a credit union in town donate. We’ve had a bank donate,” Young said. “We’ve had two insurance companies, and we’ve had individuals just come up and bring a $20 bill. Someone today gave me $100.”
Young said craft and sewing businesses in the area, including JOANN Fabrics, have been selling materials to Post 110 at or near cost.
The fabric is cut into the right size for the masks and then is placed with the other necessary items – elastic and thread – in kits that each have enough materials to sew 30 masks. One day a week the VFW Post 3033 serves as a distribution center for the kits to be picked up by volunteer seamstresses; the completed masks are dropped off the following week at Post 3033. Young said both the Isabella County Commission on Aging and 4-H have provided volunteers to sew the masks, along with volunteers from the community and members of Post 110’s Legion Family.
In two weeks the project has produced close to 900 masks, with another batch of materials for 1,000-plus masks going out this week. The feedback from the health-care workers “has been wonderful,” Young said. “We just hope we can keep doing this as long as we can get material and people to sew. This is turning into a real community project.”
Recently, the project also included providing masks to veterans in the area. Young said he’d love to see other American Legion posts take on a similar role in their own communities; any wanting to do so can call (989) 572‐0158 for advice on starting the program.
“If any other post anywhere could use this information to start helping their community – if they want to call and talk about how we did it and what we did, we’re more than happy,” Young said. “We don’t have to shut down. We can keep doing something.”
Getting through what is a historical crisis in U.S. history will take “community and helping each other,” Young said. “We kind of say ‘one team, one mission.’”