Survivors Fill Community Need for Face Masks

Author: Susie Ristau

As everyone knows, we’re all going through a tough time in our lives with COVID-19. Every night when I went to bed I stressed over how things were going to be for my family. One night, I thought: Why am I laying here stressing over what is going to happen? I need to be doing something to help people in need. 

I had seen so many Facebook posts about places in need of face masks. The next day, I had to go to the pharmacy to pick up some medication for my daughter-in-law. I was talking to Eric, the pharmacist, about COVID-19 when I noticed his mask. I asked him if he was okay with me making a mask for him and the others at the pharmacy. He said he would love that. 

So I went home, dug out my materials and started making masks for them. As I was making them, I decided that I needed to keep making them for anyone in need. I posted on my Facebook page: “If anyone is in need of a face mask, please message me and I will make them. THEY ARE FREE.” 

 DIY Face Masks

Honestly, I did not think I would have many people message me. Boy, I was surprised when my messenger was going off like crazy. I was so happy to see all the people who were interested in them. Who would have known, in a small town like Cascade, Iowa, that there would be so many people interested? I have also had people in Washington and Illinois message me for masks for their families. Now, I spend about 10-12 hours a day making, delivering and mailing masks. 

On my second day of making masks my 16-year-old daughter, Halie, walked into my craft room and asked if she could use some fabric to make hair scrunchies. Of course, I wanted to share with her. I asked her who she was making them for and she said, “anyone in need.” I was so proud that she wanted to join me in this task. Halie is now making hair scrunchies to match the masks. 

Mask Making

Survivor Making Scrunchies

I came up with a working system because we both needed the cutting board, iron, stick pins and sewing machine. I already had a bunch of masks cut out and ready for sewing. So we decided that while I am sewing, she is cutting her material and getting it ready for sewing. Then we switch places and she sews, and I cut what I need. Today, someone asked me how long we will do this. I told her that as long as I can afford the materials and supplies, we will continue to make them until there is no need for them. 

I know our Michael is looking down on me and Halie, and smiling.

Susie Ristau is the surviving mother of Army Sgt. Michael Ristau.