By Mark Mirko The Hartford Courant
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) During the height of the Covid outbreak, Jane Allely was asked by her 31-year-old grandson if she could sew some masks for him to wear to his job at the grocery store. Not only did she fill that request, but she added a few thousand to her grandson's original ask.
Jane Allely has thousands of reasons why dust is gathering on her living room shelves. Allely says she retired earlier this year with plans to stay home and clean, but that was before COVID-19. Instead, her time is now spent making masks.
Allely and her cousin Nancy Whitham have made more than 7,784 masks since April.
"It's my new mission in life," said Allely, of Ashford, Conn.
As COVID-19 was tightening its grip on people's lives, Allely was asked by her 31-year-old grandson if she could sew some masks for him to wear at his essential grocery store job. She made him several masks and decided to keep going.
Nearly 8,000 masks later, and she hasn't stopped.
Allely, who prefers the name "Cricket" is joined in the effort most days of the week by Whitham, who lost her job to the pandemic.
Cricket and Whitham say the first one thousand masks made were delivered or mailed to friends and family as far as Florida and California.
Masks have also been donated to schools, teachers and healthcare professionals.
The two sit at sewing tables in the center of Cricket's living room. Surrounding them are yards of donated fabric and leggings, dozens of thank you cards and, understandably, dusty shelves.
"Dust isn't fatal," Cricket jokes.
Using an acrylic template, Whitham cuts the fabric into rectangles, the shredded leggings into straps then Cricket assembles them using a donated sewing machine she received after wearing out her original.
The masks are then handed back to Whitham who steams the pleats before hanging the masks on a donated antique peddler's cart outside. A handwritten ledger keeps track of the count and information about distribution times.
On Cricket's sewing table sits a dish of snacks for her Bernese Mountain Dog, Prudence, and a baby monitor with a video to alert her and Whitham when visitors have arrived, in case Prudence does not bark. Whitham says it's important for someone to go out to the cart when visitors arrive.
"We have to give them the whole rundown, we have to tell them about the holes to get their filters in and I always have to tell them, 'You cannot take just one. You need one for the wash,'" Whitham said.
"This is my community," she said. "This is who I care about and this is who I want to stay healthy."
Cricket says she plans to continue making masks as long as needed, saying that it's going to help prevent colds and the seasonal flu, "It's going to be a thing."
Masks are available from the cart in Cricket's front yard in Ashford seven days a week from 8 a.m. until dusk. ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.