Bay Area residents of all ages are working to provide protective gear to essential workers, first responders and community members amid the coronavirus pandemic.

For Terri Booser, making, selling and donating masks is her family’s main source of income with her husband’s business on hold. Booser co-owns Sugar & Spice Drapery and Shades, which went from offering custom window treatment and soft furnishings to face mask production. The shop is aiming to help local businesses that are requiring employees to be masked, she said in a Facebook message.

The business initially donated 300 masks, which were made with available materials, but they improved the design to offer a better-quality item, Booser said. The shop’s team decided to invest in necessary mask-making supplies to ensure consistency and quality in the event of future supply shortages, she added.

“We reinvented the business to utilize our skills and be able to still provide for our families,” she said in a Facebook message. “Of course we remain willing to do masks as long as needed even if it becomes a permanent extension of our business.”

After seeing increasing amounts of Facebook posts related to area mask shortages, Jane Sweeney decided to act as well. Initially, her goal was to make 100 masks to donate. As of April 16, Sweeney said she and about 30 other volunteers with the Lakeview Quilters Guild made well over 1,000.

Sweeney owns Minuteman Press-Bay Area at 1040 Hercules Ave., Houston. People often drop masks off anonymously or even send them directly to medical facilities, so the number of mask-makers is likely higher than 30, Sweeney said.

As Clear Creek ISD students enter their third calendar month of distance learning, two siblings are using some of their extra time in isolation to make masks and ear-relief straps. Michelle Davis, a sophomore at Clear Springs High School, and Nicholas Davis, an eighth grader at Creekside Intermediate School, are giving the free equipment to first responders and hospital workers or selling them for $5 each, according to their mother, Maria Davis.

Nicholas, who is interested in robotics and 3D printing, researched designs for mask ear-relief straps, which he prints himself. Michelle irons, pins and sews together the masks, which takes 10 to 15 minutes each, Maria said.

So far, the two have made more than 60 masks and 150 straps. Nicholas donated around 30 straps to a Houston-area fire department in mid-April, Maria said.

Michelle expressed pride in being able to help her neighbors.
“It makes us feel very happy that we can help the people that help us because they risk their lives every day to keep our community safe and healthy,” she said in a district press release.

This story was updated 3:30 p.m. May 13 to clarify story details.