AUSTIN, Texas — A group of seamstresses from Oak Hill United Methodist Church came together to sew medical masks due to a shortage of personal protective equipment for health care workers.

Connie Weisgerber, the church’s communications coordinator, got the group organized. Weisgerber said the masks were well received at a local hospital, a nursing home facility, and word of the group’s work is spreading. 

“It’s a worst-case scenario, it’s not something you would ideally want to switch to, but everyone is running out of masks and just protective gear. So we’re just trying. This is plan B and plan C,” Weisgerber said. 

Vicki Matustik, the church’s director of connections, is proud to be part of this mask ministry. 

“It feels good during these times when we don’t know what’s about to happen and we feel helpless and don’t know what to do; to have something concrete that you can do safely from your home and feel like it is helping someone,” Matustik said. 

Many of the women who are accustomed to making quilts say the masks are simple to sew. 

“They are literally two rectangles. You sew them together. You put a little elastic band on them. We’re running out of elastic, by the way,” Weisgerber said. 

Some of the masks are also being shared with members of Austin’s homeless community. The church reaches out to those living on the streets, including providing shelter when freeze warnings go into effect. 

For now, as the demand for masks grows and the virus spreads, the women say they will move forward on this mission.