By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – As the number of COVID-19 cases have risen, Shrewsbury residents have been revving up their sewing machines to meet the demands of dwindling medical mask supplies in the area. From local hospitals to nursing homes and even veterinary clinics, hundreds of masks have been made and distributed.
Many of these seamstresses have been spurred on by the leadership of local Realtor Andrea Castinetti who, upon learning of the needs of area hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, sprang into action.
She has been working with local physician Nandana Kansra who together have been helping to mitigate supply shortages and provide assistance to the elderly and infirm. Through a Facebook group called “Coronavirus Quarantine- Who Needs Assistance,” a brigade of sewers has formed to make homemade medical masks.
“There are probably 35 to 45 people sewing and many that I don’t even know about,” Castinetti said. “And now the Sheriff has reached out asking for us to get his entire prison staff gloves, masks and supplies.”
Seasoned seamstress Ann Cairns rifled through her collection of fabric remnants and, with her church’s ministry “Hands for Hope” at the First Congregational Church in Shrewsbury quickly set about sewing. The group of 10 have a long history of sewing and knitting for charitable causes.
“We’re a busy group,” she said. “So, when the call went out for masks, our team was ready! One member dashed to JoAnn’s for 15 yards of elastic and we all went to our closets. Others have been busy searching out and ordering supplies.”
Other groups joined in. Days for Girls, a group dedicated to sewing menstrual kits for girls in third world countries at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Shrewsbury, quickly pivoted to making masks as well.
Not all who have volunteered to sew are as seasoned. Rachael Missal, also from Shrewsbury, was so inspired by Castinetti’s Facebook Group she decided to give it a try and had successful results.
“Someone posted a pattern that I couldn’t really understand because I’m not a seamstress, so I went online and looked for a tutorial. I have a sewing machine, so I started sewing,” she explained.
The masks Missal has made have been going to the Jewish Healthcare Center in Worcester, but more are needed.
“I really want everyone in this group to get some recognition – they literally jump to get things done the minute anyone asks,” Castinetti said. “It’s truly, truly remarkable.”
For more information to help, contact Castinetti at 508-277-0063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.