PLAINFIELD, NJ — Plainfield resident Robyn Whalen is answering the call for more personal protection equipment (PPE) as the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic hits home. As of Monday, March 30th, the City of Plainfield reported that there are now 73 reported individuals with a positive diagnosis. This past Saturday, Whalen delivered handmade surgical masks to the Plainfield Rescue Squad, and plans to sew more.

Faced with an increase in the daily call volume, the Plainfield Rescue Squad made a plea to the community to help with its much-needed influx of supplies.   The EMS facility has continued its operations with a full staff, responding to typical emergency calls as well as new ones related to coronavirus pandemic, putting them at a higher risk than normal.

According to Whalen, “I'm not entirely sure where the idea first came for the masks, I think I may have seen it in my newsfeed. There was an article that had a link from the CDC with the mask pattern, so I was immediately interested.”

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Whalen added, “Once I saw the pattern for the masks and saw how simple it was, I started going through my stash looking for fabric and elastic".  Of the twenty-five she has made so far, Whalen has shared them with friends who happen to be healthcare workers as far away as California and Boston.

Whalen recalls that she took up sewing as a hobby after her second son left for college, leaving her with more free time and a spare room. “I started out small, watching YouTube videos and just making small tote and makeup bags. I still enjoy making bags, drawstring backpacks, lunch bags, making aprons, wine bags and cloth napkins to give as gifts. I really enjoy being able to give handmade gifts.”

While most of the supplies Whalen uses have come from her own sewing stash, other residents, including William Toth and Charles Weltner, have stepped in to provide additional fabric and make ties for the masks instead of the required ¼” elastic that has been difficult to find.

As an added precaution, Whalen washes everything in the hottest water possible before she starts the sewing process and advises the recipients to wash the masks again before wearing. 

The Plainfield Rescue Squad continues to be in desperate need of the following items, and donations are currently being accepted:

  • N95 masks
  • Surgical regular masks
  • Plastic or paper gowns
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Hazmat suits

You can also offer free meal, buying meals from a struggling small-business to support the rescue squad.

Whalen plans to continue to donate more masks to the Plainfield Rescue Squad as time permits while she continues to work from home.

“It's not a huge thing, but I'm happy to be able to help in my small way. It also helps ease my anxiety to be doing something positive and be working with my hands and my mind.”

The Plainfield Rescue Squad is located at 700 West 7th Street.  Items can be dropped off at the side door by in the parking lot.

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