Helping Hands Ladies of Cypress produces, distributes over 4,500 face masks

The local nonprofit has sewn and donated thousands of masks since the COVID-19 pandemic began. (Courtesy Helping Hands Ladies of Cypress)
The local nonprofit has sewn and donated thousands of masks since the COVID-19 pandemic began. (Courtesy Helping Hands Ladies of Cypress)

The local nonprofit has sewn and donated thousands of masks since the COVID-19 pandemic began. (Courtesy Helping Hands Ladies of Cypress)

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Group members follow safe and sanitary measures when picking up and dropping off supplies. (Courtesy Helping Hands Ladies of Cypress)
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The women of HHLOC continue to make masks as needed. (Courtesy Helping Hands Ladies of Cypress)
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Volunteers made special masks for the nephew of an HHLOC member who recently got married. (Courtesy Helping Hands Ladies of Cypress)
Over the last several weeks, volunteers with Helping Hands Ladies of Cypress have made and donated thousands of face masks for individuals in the community, according to the nonprofit’s President Pam Zwecker.

Members of the group typically spend their time making blankets and hats for the homeless, first responders and newborn babies. When the coronavirus hit, they identified a new need and took on a new project: face masks. As of May 22, they had produced 4,524 washable masks complete with HEPA filters as an added safety measure.

Some of the groups benefiting from this work are groups the nonprofit had worked with before the pandemic, such as the Ronald McDonald House. The PTSD Foundation of America’s Camp Hope, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Reach Unlimited, local church members serving at food pantries, Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital and Texas Department of Public Safety offices are among the dozens of other recipients, Zwecker said.

“This virus never slowed us down,” she said of the 45 members of HHLOC. “We call ourselves a village of volunteers, and it did not stop them at all. They continued on even with making the quilts and everything we did normally. In fact, I think they might have doubled up and done twice as [much].”

Volunteers cut mask patterns out of fabric and create kits for others to pick up from Zwecker’s front porch, take home and sew. A separate container on the porch is designated for drop-offs once the masks are sewn, she said.

From there, Zwecker and her mother iron the masks and add nose pieces and elastic. Masks are ultimately delivered to organizations in the area or even shipped out to other communities.

When supplies began running low, entities such as Cy-Fair Women’s Club, Sheet Metal Workers Local Union #54 and Ann’s Tailor & Dry Cleaning stepped up to contribute.

Since the mask initiative began, more people have shown interest in joining HHLOC, Zwecker said.

“I think this has given people a way to lower their anxiety level,” she said. “They’re able to focus on doing something good and not focus on the scary part.”

Zwecker said community members can donate supplies such as fabric, thread, elastic, plastic storage bags, copy paper and hand sanitizer. Financial donations and volunteers are also appreciated during this time.

“One thing that I think is so great about our organization [is] someone will come and say ‘I want to help ... but I don’t knit; I don’t sew; I don’t have any skills,’ and we laugh at that,” she said. “Each person has their own individual set of skills that we can utilize—you can organize; you can do computer input for us. There’s so many things that we need the public to help us do, and most of it is done in their own home.”

By Danica Lloyd

Editor, Cy-Fair

Danica joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in 2016. As editor, she continues to cover local government, education, health care, real estate, development, business and transportation in Cy-Fair. Her experience prior to CI includes studying at the Washington Journalism Center and interning at a startup incubator in D.C., serving as editor-in-chief of Union University's student magazine and online newspaper, reporting for The Jackson Sun and freelancing for other publications in Arkansas and Tennessee.