Amanda Robinson and her mother, Cheryl, began working March 20 to help fulfill a need for masks at The Legacy Willow Bend retirement community in Plano.

Robinson serves as the healthcare administrator and manages the skilled nursing portion of the community’s care, which includes assisted- and independent-living, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation services.

As the new coronavirus threat became more prominent, the CDC released recommendations to reuse protective equipment, Robinson said, and she began to look for alternatives for masks.

“Personal protective equipment has been near impossible to get enough to protect everybody, and we have over 300 employees—plus, then, the vast amount of residents that we have on campus,” Robinson said.

After finding a mask sewing pattern posted online by an out-of-state hospital, Robinson and her mother adapted the pattern for faster production and added quilt batting to make the masks more dense, she said. The masks can be washed between shifts and be reused.

She and her mother began sewing on their own, but they have now received help from community members, staff members and residents. As of March 25, The Legacy Willow Bend is getting close to having the number of masks they need for their team, she said.

“We’re just trying to protect everybody,” Robinson said.

Once the community amasses a surplus of masks, they will begin giving them out to anyone that needs them, Robinson said. This may include area hospitals as well as the Chai Community Homes for Adults, according to Lisa Vellekamp, sales director with The Legacy Willow Bend.

Local fabric stores, like Med Couture, have donated material for masks, while members of the community, including the Jewish Community Center, have shared posts on social media about the need for volunteers to make and donate to the project, she said.

“We've also had response from family members. Even our members themselves are donating their time, whether they're cutting or sewing the masks as well,” Vellekamp said. “We've had a great response. It's only been a couple of days—it's pretty amazing.”

Robinson said that while they hope the threat of the new coronavirus will allow them to slow down production in the next week or so, they will continue to make masks as needed.

“We'll keep going as long as it's needed because it really has brought us closer to a lot of people in the community,” Robinson said. “There’s a sense of relief for the team members and the families. ... And to be able to give back just a little bit of my time outside of my actual workday is very important to me.”

Those interested in volunteering to sew masks can call 972-468-6236. Materials can be picked up from the center or delivered to within 20 miles of The Legacy Willow Bend at 6101 Ohio Drive, Plano.