Alabaster resident with lupus makes masks for healthcare workers

By NATHAN HOWELL | Special to the Reporter

For about a month Alabaster resident Angela Reardon has been self-quarantining to protect herself and her family from exposure to COVID-19. A few weeks back she decided that she wanted to use her time at home to do something positive for the community and began sewing cloth masks.

The idea of the masks is to help flatten the curve, which refers to measures that will keep the number of active COVID-19 cases at a manageable or decreasing level to help medical providers treat infected people.

“I have lupus, so I am at high risk,” Reardon said. “Which is why I have not left my home for the past four weeks. Now the CDC is saying everyone should wear masks when they need to leave their house. Which I thought was the right thing to do all along.”

Despite being at higher risk, Reardon is putting herself in the middle of the battle against the novel coronavirus.

Reardon owns a business called Zipper Doodle Boutique, which makes custom clothes for pets. With her knowledge of sewing and access to resources she realized that she would be able to put her talents to good use to help during the epidemic.

“I have always wanted to help people. I’m not a nurse or a doctor but I always want to tend to people however I can,” she said. “I know that supplies are hard to come by right now, and there is a lot of price gouging going on at the moment so I wanted to be able to source masks locally for people who needed them.”

Reardon began pooling supplies and posted to Facebook that she was making masks on March 21, and was immediately contacted by people seeking out her services, including requests from medical facilities.

“Within an hour of my Facebook post I had two hospice facilities contact me and some people from UAB,” she explained. “They told me they saw my post and explained that they all had shortages.”

She also said that a friend of hers from Washington requested that she make around 100 masks for her medical facility.

“I have been charging for the masks, but they actually donated all of their materials and I just donated my time and labor to help them out,” she said.

Many facilities are only able to provide their nurses and doctors with one N95 mask, which is necessary for protecting their safety while dealing with possible COVID-19 exposure she said. Reardon said that the facilities were actually using her masks to cover their N95 masks so that they were able to keep them clean and use them for a longer period of time.

Reardon said that the mask making is a family affair as her husband Drew and her daughter Ava are helping her.

“My husband is helping me on the weekends when he is home by cutting fabric, which takes a whole day to produce 200 masks,” she said. “My daughter will snip thread for me, which is a big help.”

Reardon is charging $5 per mask for customers, which is to cover her cost for supplies, as well as paying shipping costs. She also said that anyone can help her by donating cloth and non-woven fabrics, which are the only types of fabric that can be used to make the masks, and elastic for the ear loops.

So far, Reardon estimates she has made close to 500 masks for those who need them most.

Anyone interested in purchasing a mask or donating materials can contact Reardon by messaging her at Facebook.com/Angela.r.reardon.