MOREHEAD CITY — When business started drying up for a local clothing maker due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, rather than close up shop altogether, Booth Parker instead decided to put her skills to use by making face masks to donate to the community.
About a week after she made the decision to begin making masks, Ms. Parker said she’s already made and donated several hundred of them, and she estimates she has requests for at least 1,700 more.
“It was quite overwhelming, the response we got when we first posted (on social media) about it, and we’re still getting requests,” she told the News-Times Tuesday. “This morning, actually, we got four more requests.”
Ms. Parker owns Haley and the Hound, a clothing line based in Morehead City that mainly distributes to wholesale retailers throughout the country. Many of those retailers have closed in recent weeks in response to the coronavirus, so they canceled their orders with Ms. Parker.
“We didn’t have to keep making our usual items, so we were trying to figure out what we can do in the meantime,” she said. “That’s when we decided to make the masks.”
She said her main seamstress, Mona Boyd, was on board with the idea from the beginning, and after some research into which mask style is preferred by health professionals, they found a pattern and got started.
She said the masks come with a pocket sewn on the side so health workers can slip a filter in to make the mask more protective, if needed, as an alternative to the N95 masks that are in short supply globally.
On March 26, Ms. Parker posted on Haley and the Hound’s social media pages about her plans to donate the masks, not knowing what kind of response to expect. Word spread quickly though, and the requests for masks began rolling in immediately.
So far, Ms. Parker has delivered the masks – free of charge – to emergency room nurses at Carteret Health Care, workers and residents at the Crystal Coast Hospice House and workers at Carteret OB-Gyn, which has been testing patients for coronavirus. She’s also shipped masks to other hospitals and health centers in the region, and there’s a long list of others that have requested them.
This week, Ms. Parker plans to deliver a batch of masks to the County Board of Education to distribute to the cafeteria workers and bus drivers making and delivering meals to students who are out of school.
“We’ll stay busy for at least 10 days with the volume of requests we have now,” she said.
In addition to shipping and delivering the masks locally, Ms. Parker said she adds any extras that get made to the online shop, where they are available for free. She said they usually “sell out” within minutes.
Ms. Boyd and two other seamstresses for Haley and the Hound have been working full-time to keep up with mask requests, and Ms. Parker said since they all work from home, health officials gave them the OK to continue doing so. She said she plans to keep making the masks for as long as there is still demand.
“The reaction has just been really positive, and everyone who gets them seems appreciative,” she said. “…It’s been awesome to see people come together to make the most of a bad situation.”
Contact Elise Clouser at email@example.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.