SAULT STE. MARIE: As Sault Ste. Marie enters stage 3, it is clear that face masks are a part of the new normal when entering public facilities. Long before this announcement, one Saultite, Tina McLarty had been busy picking up a new hobby of mask making to assist the Sault Area Hospital and before she knew it, she had raised $10,000 and had made over 3000 masks.
Her epic mask making began after hearing wind from a friend that the hospital was in need of masks. Tina then found a post on Facebook and quickly started to assist and started using all the fabric she had to create cloth face coverings. While creating the masks elastic components were in short supply when the pandemic first started, lucky Tina received very generous amounts from various stores such as Trio Supply, Barbs Embroidery, and Life’s A Stitch.
“I have lots of cotton fabric because I was making stuff for the Cancer Society and I didn’t know I had as much cotton fabric, I actually had. I used every stitch of fabric I had, my mother gave me fabric and I have probably about 1,000 Facebook friends and there was a big shortage of elastic in town and the only place you could get elastic was Walmart and obviously sold out right away. I, probably a good two months, I got elastic from friends… So the first few months when FabricLand wasn’t open, I was very lucky to have friends giving me sheets and pyjamas. Whatever they could find for me to make these masks.”
Tina has been busy making masks since the middle of March, and had to maneuver around Facebook security to get the word out.
“The middle of March, that’s when I started making it. First, I started making them for the hospital and I posted pictures because I was proud. I’ve never made a mask before. I watched a YouTube video on how to make them and my friends all started asking me. Can I buy a mask, so I thought, oh okay, $5 bucks for my masks. They originally were supposed to go to the hospital so I started donating the money to the hospital. I ended up giving $1,500 to the hospital and then, it just became contagious that I just wanted to give money to other organizations that were suffering. I tried posting on Facebook that I’m selling masks, but I was blocked t. They wouldn’t allow you to, because they thought they were medical masks. The words mask you weren’t allowed to post it. So I found a way around it. I have a Relay For Life Facebook Page and I posted my masks on there and shared that onto these-selling sites and that’s how I got around selling these masks.”
From all of Tina’s hard work over the past few months she has raised over $10,000 and has donated to various organization such as, Sault Area Hospital, Pauline’s Place, ARCH Hospice, Algoma Veterans Association, Ontario Finnish Resthome Association, Grayson Aikens Family, Relay For Life – Cancer Society, United Way True North Stronger Covid Relief Fund (Harvest Algoma), St. Vincent Place, Veterans Commemorative Monument, Community Soup Kitchen in Jamestown, Sault Search and Rescue, Algoma Autism, Women In Crisis, and TAAG. Included in these donations she has also provided the hospital with 215 masks, 62 caps, and 130 ear savers.
As Tina starts back at work she, her routine is changing and she is unsure how long she will be making masks for, but is hopefully to donate at a future date.
“I’m not sure right now, I’ve started back to work so it’s a little more complicated for me to do that. But I would like to in the future donate again for sure.”