Local sewers making masks for first-responders and healthcare workers

Morgan Hill businesswoman Rema Seoud, owner of 2DayModa, stays busy sewing safety masks for first-responders and healthcare workers.
Photo by Claudia Rossi

By Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi

Crisis reveals character. And the coronavirus crisis is revealing that many South Valley residents care about their fellow human beings.

A group of Morgan Hill women with sewing skills are demonstrating that caring by turning vacuum cleaner bags into masks for first responders and nurses. Jennifer Tate, Cindy Miller, Donna Ruebusch and several others are keeping busy during the stay-in-place order by making the face masks to help protect health professionals from exposure to the virus as they do their jobs.

“It is a labor of love from members of our community who are concerned about our first responders in South County,” said Claudia Rossi, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Education and a nurse. “We’re in the process of getting those materials together to do this and address the shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment) that we’re facing not only here but nationwide.”

In addition, the staff at Community Solutions put out a request that they were in need of cloth to make masks that provide protection for clients and staff in their residential centers and domestic violence shelter, and the staff that must continue to see clients.

“Folks have fired up their sewing machines and have been sewing,” said Lisa DeSilva, chief development officer at the nonprofit.

Then there’s Gianna Harris, a 10-year-old Portland, Ore., resident who was born in Gilroy. She has an online scrunchee business at Ggzscruncheez.com where she makes the hair ties.

After she saw on the news that the medical industry was short on protective masks, she switched her business to making masks for the public to save the industrial masks for the professionals.

The face masks are double sided 100 percent cotton-lined that is breathable and washable. This product serves as a fashionable facial barrier for personal use.

“I think its great people are making masks and I wanted to help out,” she said. “It just gave me the idea to help them and make them comfortable and safe.”

When she first started her business about six months ago, she donated about 100 pairs of slippers to Portland area hospitals. Now she plans to donate some masks to South Valley nonprofits.

“She’s very philanthropic and believes in giving back to her community,” her mother, Anna Hurtado said.

Buying one, or two, helps Gianna raise money to make even more she will donate. They are $5 each and available at Ggzscruncheez.com.

Meanwhile, in San Martin, Rocca’s Market General Manager Dan Keith is helping families with a week’s worth of food.

Keith and Rocca’s are supplying up to six families per day with essential food, including meat, bread, milk and produce, subject to what’s in stock.

“A lot of people are going through hardships and I just wanted to help take care of people in need,” Keith said.

What began as a personal project has quickly turned  into a community coming together, he said.

“It’s amazing,” Keith said. “I’m so proud to be a part of this community.”

He added that donations are steadily coming in to help out. If you are able, donations to aid Keith’s effort can be sent through Venmo, @Dan-Keith-8, or by sending a check to Dan Keith, Rocca’s Mkt, P.O. Box 73, San Martin CA 95046.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, Rocca’s Market, 13335 Monterey Road in San Martin, is open daily from noon to 5 p.m., except Tuesday and Sunday. The store allows 10 shoppers inside at a time.

The store has set a special time, 11:30 a.m. to noon, for seniors 70 and older and people with weakened immune systems.

Details: visit facebook.com/RoccasMarket.

Then there’s Reina Carrillo, owner of GVA Café, who is delivering coffee and protein boxes and mini meals for the staff at St. Louise Hospital in the morning five days a week.

Finally, the Centennial Recreation Senior Center has been successful in continuing the essential senior lunch services by turning it into a drive-through pick-up-lunch service. Their team served 434 meals the last week of March. Twelve meals were delivered directly to homes. For many seniors the lunch program is the only full nutritional meal they receive most weekdays. The program runs from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Monday through Friday.

These are a small example of our community coming together to help others. I have no doubt we will get through this and when we do we will come out stronger and more compassionate. Stay safe out there.

Robert Airoldi is the editor of Morgan Hill Life. Reach him at [email protected]

Robert Airoldi