Masked Crusaders

Hockey Players On Opposite Sides Of The Country Put Their Sewing Skills To Use To Help Stop The Spread Of COVID-19

 

Editor’s Note: In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the hockey community have stepped up to aide in the fight. We salute those who are dedicating their time and talents to help so many others.

 

Lily Miller is no stranger to helping others. She’s also no stranger to having a light shined on her charitable acts. 

Back in 2015, Lily was a 9-year-old second grader in Missoula, Mont., when she was featured in USA Hockey Magazine for making lovebirds out of scraps of recycled fabric to help girls attend school in various countries around the world. That year, Lily’s Lovebirds raised more than $3,000 for The Malala Fund and the Conscious Connections Foundation. 

Now, five years later, Lily continues to create crafts to help those in need, and this time she’s enlisting her sister Maizy and mother Terry to help her make face masks for medical professionals and immune-compromised individuals during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“I like to make things, but I don’t like to make things if they aren’t useful,” Lily said. “When I found out I could make a difference through crafting, it was the answer to everything. It’s lots of fun and we get to make a change in the world.”

Following the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been an extreme shortage of N-95 masks for healthcare works and others to use. To combat this, people across the country have been stepping up and making masks out of fabric, which provide an extra layer of protection and extend the lifespan of those N-95 masks. 

So, when healthcare centers in Missoula, sent out a call for action asking people to make masks, the Millers didn’t hesitate to start making masks out of donated materials Lily originally used to create her lovebirds. It didn’t take long before the orders started pouring in. 

While balancing their online school work and everything else that comes with being a teenager, Lily and Maizy have sent out 50 masks, and are working hard to keep up with the more than 200 requests they have received. One of their biggest orders went to the YWCA Women’s and Children’s center in Missoula. 

And with the demand for masks showing no signs of slowing down, the Miller sisters and their mom continue to put their skills to good use to help others.

“It’s just part of their person, wanting to help,” their mother said. “They started by sewing a few lovebirds or a few masks and reaching out, and all of the sudden they’re helping their community.”

 


 

On the other side of the country, Emily Loebs, the former captain of the Saint Michael’s College women’s hockey team in Colchester, Vermont, is also using her crafting skills to help combat the pandemic. 

It started when a friend working in the medical sector asked if she could make 10 masks. They came out great, and that’s when Loebs knew she needed to do more.

“It started off very low-key and then it turned into this attitude of ‘if I’m able to make this stuff, I should be doing it,’” she said. “And that’s when I started sewing as much as I could.”

For nine hours a day, Loebs stays busy in her full-time position as a business risk manager for a collateral and cash funding desk. When 5 o’clock rolls around, she switches gears and begins making masks for healthcare workers across the country. A typical day finds her still sitting at her sewing machine until midnight. The long days don’t bother Loeb, who admits there’s actually a selfish component to her work.

“After a long day of work, it’s really nice to put my mind on something else and be distracted, if you will,” she said. “We’re just trying to stay busy and take the positives in everything we can, and this gives us a bigger purpose and it just feels good.”

In a matter of weeks, the Acton, Mass., native went from sewing a few masks for friends to accepting requests from as far away as Nashville, Tenn. As of Sunday night, she had completed and shipped 1,460 masks and had more than 2,100 orders still needing to be filled.

Loebs admitted that none of this would be possible without the support she’s received from the community and the help of her fiancé, parents and sister, who assist with the ever-growing number of requests.

“At first, it was hard to wrap our heads around what the real need would be. But the response has been great and people seem to really be appreciative,” Loeb said. “When we’re getting the texts and selfies of people in their masks saying thank you it’s pretty rewarding.”

With stay at home orders and nonessential businesses like craft supply stores closing temporarily, access to supplies is the biggest hurdle in keeping up with demand. Loebs uses anything that works for the mask straps – elastic, ribbons, shoe and skate laces – but she’s quickly running out. 

Without those supplies, filling orders will be difficult, but Loebs is thankful for the donations she’s received thus far.

“I am beyond grateful for the generous donations that have come in from all around the country,” she said. “Being able to help out the community in whatever way we can is amazing and really helps me focus on the positives right now.”

 

To request a mask or donate supplies, contact Emily Loebs via email at ejldesigns24@gmail.com and the Millers via email at mom@lilyslovebirds.com

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