Crossroads Community Church behind effort to make 20,000 masks

The masks are being delivered to healthcare workers, grocery employees, and retirement homes, among others

VANCOUVER — To mask, or not to mask? That seems to be a question on many people’s minds these days.

While the Centers for Disease Control tries to formulate a recommendation for all of us, one local ministry is forging ahead with a plan to manufacture and distribute 20,000 masks.

Maureen O’Bryan, with Crossroads Community Church, stands by bins at Chuck’s Produce where people can pick up kits or drop off masks for donation. Photo courtesy Love Now Masks/Facebook
Maureen O’Bryan, with Crossroads Community Church, stands by bins at Chuck’s Produce where people can pick up kits or drop off masks for donation. Photo courtesy Love Now Masks/Facebook

Stuart Smith is an associate pastor at Crossroads Community Church, heading up their Love Now ministry, which is focused on charity work here in Clark County and the world at large.

“We have a number of people within our church and within our circles that are physicians, nurses, employees at rehab centers or retirement homes,” says Smith, “and they were all talking about how they didn’t have any kind of protection for, you know, when someone coughs, sneezes, or breathes.”

Smith says that sparked a conversation in their ministry group chat.

“And we just said, you know, we have a good sized church, we have a great mobilization, we have wonderful people who have great big hearts that are willing to pour out into a project,” he says, “and we said, ‘hey look, let’s pull the trigger on this.’”

“This” is #Lovenowmasks, a Facebook Group of more than 200 people working to deliver masks to healthcare workers, retirement homes, and assisted living facilities throughout Clark County.

“And it’s bigger than that,” says Smith. “We have another network that are kind of helpers and workers that are outside of that.”

Teri Cawlfield Duvall drops off completed masks at Chuck’s Produce in Salmon Creek, and picks up a kit to make more as part of the Love Now Masks project by Crossroads Community Church. Photo courtesy Teri Cawlfield Duvall/Facebook
Teri Cawlfield Duvall drops off completed masks at Chuck’s Produce in Salmon Creek, and picks up a kit to make more as part of the Love Now Masks project by Crossroads Community Church. Photo courtesy Teri Cawlfield Duvall/Facebook

They’re also working with other groups doing similar work, sharing information, designs, and details on where materials can be found.

“I saw someone on there that I have no idea who they are, or no relation to them at all, but they came across my feed and I connected them into our group because she needed a sewing machine,” Smith says. “And literally within an hour someone had said, ‘hey, I have a sewing machine. She can’t have it, but she could definitely borrow it for these efforts.”

Video courtesy https://www.facebook.com/watch/CCCLoveNow/

As of Thursday, Smith said Love Now Masks had crafted just over 1,400 masks. 

Initially, the group met at the church to distribute sewing kits, but soon decided that was too difficult to do safely. So they teamed up with Chuck’s Produce, which now hosts bins where people can pick up kits, then drop off the completed masks.

“People have been wildly excited about making masks, about dropping them off, taking a lot of photos,” says Smith. “And I think the general consensus is that people just want to be engaged, they want to be part of the solution.”

A bin at Chuck’s Produce in Salmon Creek holds donated materials waiting to be turned into masks as part of Crossroad Community Church’s Love Now Masks project. Photo by Mike Schultz
A bin at Chuck’s Produce in Salmon Creek holds donated materials waiting to be turned into masks as part of Crossroad Community Church’s Love Now Masks project. Photo by Mike Schultz

Smith added that he understands homemade masks are inadequate for many healthcare professionals, but there is growing consensus that masks may help to slow the spread of the virus. The CDC is expected to recommend that everyone wear a mask in public soon, making efforts like Love Now Masks all the more important.

“I worked in construction for many years, and the industry standard is to wear steel toed boots,” Smith says. “But if you don’t have steel toed boots, leather boots are better than barefoot.”

While efforts to connect the masks with hospitals at the administrative level have proven difficult, Smith says they have given some to nurses. Others have gone to nursing homes, retirement centers, and grocery stores for employees to wear.

“Our hearts just break for all the grocers, for the people who are serving in these industries,” Smith says. “These grocers are just unprotected themselves and so if we can help them just make that curve less of a spike, round that off a little bit.”

Completed masks can be deposited in these closed boxes at Chuck’s Produce in Salmon Creek and on Mill Plain. Photo by Mike Schultz
Completed masks can be deposited in these closed boxes at Chuck’s Produce in Salmon Creek and on Mill Plain. Photo by Mike Schultz

If you’re unable to sew, Smith says there’s still plenty you might be able to do to help. From financial donations to help with purchasing materials for the kits, to providing fabric or elastic, or just helping to connect them with others who might help.

“But outside of that, I think a lot of it, of course, is staying home,” Smith adds. “Being an active member of our community, staying home. For us in the faith-based communities to be praying for our community, praying for our world, our nations and that is, of course, equally important.”

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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