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Oxford knitting group making masks for vulnerable members of the community

Mary Jensen is one of the many vulnerable members of society who is having to take extra precautions due to COVID-19 and the dangerous effects it can have on her and others.

Jensen’s husband also has allergies, and the two of them have taken necessary precautions, including using surgical masks. Because of the massive need for personal protective equipment (PPE), masks and other items have become hard to find for non-medical workers or those not at medical facilities.

Jensen decided to take matters into her own hands and make her own masks out of recommended materials from the Centers for Disease Control. They are not of the same quality as the N95 masks used by medical professionals and not a total block, but are a good substitute for those who cannot get a N95 mask.

Jensen is part of the Leisure Lifestyles of Oxford program called Chronicles of Yarnia, which is a group that knits and crochets. For years, they were knitting caps for the homeless. While making masks for herself and her husband, Jensen came up with an idea.

“As part of our church, we think to do things,” Jensen said. “We’re a very vulnerable community. There are a lot of people with medical conditions and a lot of people over 60. That’s kind of our first thing, and we’ve done some brainstorming on how to reach some of those people.”

Jensen contacted Marjorie Buckley, who already knew of some quilters around Oxford who were wanting to make masks for the vulnerable community but were looking for more information.

While the Jensens are self-quarantining, they do have a mother-in-law suite connected to their house with a separate door and separate bathroom.

“I told Marjorie, ‘I’ll handle the supplies. You handle the sewers,'” Jensen said. “It’s just rolled from there.”

As of last Sunday, roughly a dozen people have signed up to help make the masks, which are washable and 100-percent cotton.

With social distancing guidelines in place, getting the masks to those who need them the most was the next challenge. One place the masks will go is to the assisted living center Elmcroft of Oxford, which is next to the subdivision where Buckley lives. Another potential option is providing them to the Oxford Police Department, who could give them out when helping at local grocery stores during the senior hour of shopping every week.

“We just have to pull together,” Jensen said. “We’ve got people out there who’ve been delivering groceries to us and making sure we can stay in and away from everybody like we need to. This is what I can do without getting out and breaking social distancing.”

To get in touch with Jensen regarding donating materials or to help make masks, email her at 1miss2mary3@gmail.com.