Mask Beez stitch community together through pandemic

Published: Mar. 27, 2020 at 5:18 AM CDT
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As the pandemic continues in Wisconsin, locals are extending a helping hand to others in the community.

This includes people stepping up to provide PPE or personal protective equipment for hospitals in need.

For many people that are a little stressed out right now it's good to keep busy. Some busy bees in Eau Claire pulled out their sewing machines and got to work, providing much needed face masks for the community.

This has been nothing short of so inspiring,” said Natalie Hanson who is leading the effort locally. Hanson put out a call for action on a Facebook page, “Mask Beez” that now has more than 1,000 members. "We are here to provide these homemade face masks if they can be at all useful,” Hanson added.

The bees have been busy sewing thousands of masks after Natalie organized the group when the pandemic started to escalate locally. "My husband was leaving for work, he is a physician at Sacred Heart Hospital and I asked him, what can I do for you today?” she said. “I thought he might like a nice dinner when he came home and he looked in my eyes and said find a way to start making masks."

That's just what she did, stitching the community together during tough times. "We are all at home so we've got moms, kids and elders and people are joining up to do this together,” Hanson said.

H.S.H.S Hospitals and Marshfield Clinic Health Systems are accepting donations of face masks to use in their hospitals. "Where and how we use these cloth face masks will be carefully under the direction of our infections control specialists who will adhere to any CDC guidelines," said Laura Baalrud, the director of Community Health at H.S.H.S.

"My sincerest wish would be that none of these masks have to be used in healthcare settings by our front line doctors, nurses, healthcare providers,” Hanson added. “They deserve FDA approved top quality protection.” But as the supply dwindles, the mask beez are prepared. They have a pattern the hospitals are asking everyone to use to make an all cloth masks. They have posted a tutorial video to help sewers and they ask everyone to just use leftover materials you already have at home. "We don't want anybody going out searching for any type of materials right now,” Hanson said.

You can drop off completed masks at Festival Foods in Eau Claire and Family Fare in Chippewa Falls in brand new bins donated by Boxx sanitation, then Huebsch laundering will clean them before distributing them to the hospitals. "This doesn't surprise us in the least that when we are in a moment of crisis, that people really step forward and we appreciate it so much,” Baalrud said.

For now, the supply is sufficient but if a surge comes, the mask bees will fly in to help. “This is an energized group of people, who have expertise, who take action and who are willing to serve their community,” Hanson said.

To see the tutorial to make cloth face masks

To visit and join and Mask Beez Facebook page

To donate cloth masks, DO NOT visit the hospitals.

Donate to H.S.H.S visit a drop box at any of the locations listed below:

Festival Foods: 2717 Birch St., Eau Claire

Festival Foods: 3007 Mall Dr., Eau Claire

Festival Foods: 2615 N. Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire

Family Fare: 212 E. Bay St., Chippewa Falls

Family Fare: 17158 County Highway J, Chippewa Falls

In addition to Mask Beez , Marshfield Clinic is also accepting donations of their own.

If you know of a business or organization that is able to donate any masks, gloves, gowns, face shields or goggles in any quantity, please contact Karen Piel at MCHS Foundation: or (715) 389-3868.

To donate homemade face masks to Marshfield Clinic Health Systems here are the drop off locations:

MCHS Wellness Center

Tuesday and Fridays, 11am – 1pm

717 Western Street

Marshfield WI, 54449

JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores

Monday - Saturday, 9am - 7pm, Sunday 10am - 6pm

1919 N Central Ave

Marshfield, WI 54449

For curbside dropoff call (715) 384-8778

Acoustic Cafe - Eau Claire

Monday - Friday, 11am - 1pm

505 S. Barstow St.

Eau Claire, WI 54701

Barstow St. entry

KJ's Fresh Market

Monday - Friday, 8am - 6pm

719 2nd St.

Chetek, WI 54728

Drop box located inside of the 2 automatic entry doors

Marketplace Foods

Monday - Friday, 8am - 5pm

330 S. Main St.

Rice Lake, WI 54868

Drop box inside Liquor Store

Ladysmith Fresh Market

Daily, 8am - 5pm

400 West 9th St. North

Ladysmith, WI 54848

Box is by Service Counter inside

Flambeau Hospital

Monday - Friday, 10 - 11am

98 Sherry Avenue

Park Falls, WI

Drop off at the back loading dock.

Christie Country Quilts LLC

Tuesday - Friday, 9am - 5 pm and Saturdays 9 am - 1 pm 4

32 Hewett Street

Neillsville, WI 54456

Drop off box In entryway by the front door

Soap 'n Suds/What's The Scoop?

Tuesdays and Fridays, 11am – 1pm

816 1st Ave

Woodruff, WI 54568