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Submitted photo

Abby Weasonforth (left) and her grandmother, Irene Goff (right), turned their hobby of quilting into a relief effort for those in need of masks in facilities across the United States and beyond.

HUNTINGTON — Over 1,600 cloth masks have been donated to local medical facilities and places as far as the U.S. Virgin Islands and Germany, and it all started when Huntington East Middle School teacher Abby Weasenforth and her grandmother unpacked their fabric stash to keep themselves busy during the pandemic.

Weasenforth and her grandmother, Irene Goff, both avid quilters, decided to put their skills to good use when schools virtually “let out” for spring break in March.

“I’m virtually teaching regularly, and she’s up for anything,” Weasenforth said. “We watched a video, practiced on a couple, and I actually got in contact with a doctor here in Huntington. I took the CDC pattern and collaborated with him to make a mask that was more secure and closer to medical grade.”

Since then, the duo has created custom-fitted masks for adults, children and those Weasenforth calls “in-betweens.”

“We started out during my spring break, and we made close to 300 that week. We thought, ‘OK, we’re probably done with this now, who else is going to need them?’ Then the week after we had orders, people contacting us left and right,” Weasenforth said. “We realized we just had to keep making them; we couldn’t let these people down.”

Weasonforth said while the list of facilities requesting masks continues to grow, including departments at St. Mary’s Medical Center, Cabell Huntington Hospital, Toyota and Little Victories Animal Rescue among others, she’s grateful to have spent so much time with Goff helping the community.

“This is our way to pass the time, spend time together, and it’s how we wanted to help out during the COVID-19 crisis,” Weasenforth said. “It helps my grandmother stay positive, too; she’s 83 years old, so she can’t really go out.”

And Weasonforth said they will continue to make the masks until the need subsides.

“My phone hasn’t stopped blowing up, so our plan is to keep making them until there’s not a need anymore,” she said. “They’re free to anybody. I’ve had people donate elastic and fabric, they just drop it off at our door, people who donate money, we buy fabric and elastic. They’re free, we don’t want to profit off it because we’re in a pandemic.”

Weasonforth said she’s also received some help from family and friends who help cut elastic and complete the first steps in making the masks, then drop them off at her door to be sewn and completed.

“Every Monday, we count how many masks we’ve made, as of Monday we’ve made 1,694 total orders,” she said. “This is just our way to help out in the community — we’re not on the frontlines or anything, but how cool is it that our fabric stash is being used to protect people from a virus?”

Follow reporter Hanna Pennington via Twitter @hpennHD.

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