Search for elastic turns into state-wide effort to sew 1,000 face masks for sailors on USS Ronald Reagan

US Air Force veteran Carol Riddle sewing masks to send to the USS Ronald Reagan | Photo courtesy of Chesney Galindo, St George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — American Legion Auxiliary members throughout the state of Utah have pledged to sew and donate 1,000 face masks for service members stationed on the USS Ronald Reagan.

Masks sewn by the Sew It Forward Foundation | Photo courtesy of Chesney Galindo, St George News / Cedar City News

Bonnie Graham told Cedar City News that her granddaughter, who is stationed on the ship, reached out to her to ask for masks.

“I have been sewing masks and sending them out to her because they are just really needing them,” Graham said. “Some of them are at the Air Force base, but a lot of them are still in quarantine right there in close quarters.”

Graham said she ran out of elastic and was not able to find more, so she reached out to her friend Carol Riddle, an Air Force Vietnam veteran in Cedar City. Riddle and her daughter, Chesney Galindo, are members of the American Legion Auxiliary, so they contacted others to help as well.

“They had connections, and they asked if anybody would be willing to help. And within just a couple of days, then they had committed to (making) 1,000,” Graham said. “Donations kept coming in for the shipping and everything.”

Graham said she was amazed at the willingness of others to help make masks.

“I could not believe it — I’m just so overwhelmed by how everybody’s just kind of dived in here,” Graham said. “These ladies are so willing to help, especially where it’s military-oriented because we definitely want them taken care of.”

Shawn Schouten and Nancy Meidell holding face masks they have sewn | Photo courtesy of Chesney Galindo, St George News / Cedar City News

Galindo said when her mom told her about the need for masks for the USS Ronald Reagan, she decided to send a message to other American Legion Auxiliary members asking if they could help.

“They said ‘sure’ and then it was like one person after another,” Galindo said. “I’ve got a lot of people sewing masks everywhere across the state of Utah, or donating money, and it was literally just one message that I sent.”

Members that are not able to sew masks are also donating funds for shipping and supplies. As of Tuesday, $400 has been collected to help cover shipping costs for the masks.

Galindo added that the commitment is “a small blessing,” because the ALA Utah Girls State event for this year has been canceled due to COVID-19.

“Even though we’re not up there at Weber State for the week with all the girls, we can still give back in some way,” Galindo said.

Galindo said founders of Sew It Forward, and ALA members, Shawn Schouten and Nancy Meidell also pledged 1,000 masks.

“Their group has made thousands of masks for across the state and even placed a stand outside their home for anyone to come get one,” Galindo said. “These two ladies have single-handedly taken on the largest part of making these makes for us to send.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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