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419th family makes masks to protect community from COVID-19

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Codie Trimble, contributer
  • 419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

NIBLEY, Utah -- Trace, cut, sew, send, repeat – that’s what April 2020 looked like for Tech. Sgt. Steven Wright and his family.

Out of their basement in Nibley, Utah, the family of five spent around four hours every day since late March making masks for the local Air Force community, and also those in need around the country.

“It’s not about charging people for these or anything like that, I take them in to work and hand them out like crazy,” said Wright, who is a fuels technician in the 419th Logistics Readiness Squadron. “All I care about is making sure people have the stuff needed to protect themselves.”

The Wrights use almost any material they can get their hands on, from old t-shirts to drapes, and of course, yards and yards of fabric from the store. Wright’s wife, Cynthia, compared the current effort her family is making to that of families during past wars in United States history, comparing the mask-making to when Civil War families tore apart bedsheets to make uniforms.

“We’ve had a ton of resources donated to help create these masks, from fabric, to aluminum strips to be used for nose pieces, to old t-shirts which can be used to create the straps to tie the mask together,” Cynthia said. “I feel like Rosie the Riveter during World War ll – I’m not on the front lines in the hospitals, but if I can help protect those who are, that’s the least I can do.”

Cynthia said that if she can save one person’s life with the masks her family is making, that makes all of the work worth the time and effort.

“I was talking to someone on the phone who I’m sending 75 masks to and she told me with tears in her eyes, ‘You guys are angels, we have nothing here and I am so grateful you’re doing this to help us,’” Cynthia said.

The Wrights have sent more than a thousand masks to those in need across the state, starting local then shipping masks statewide to whoever needs them.

“We’ve made masks for neighbors, friends, local hospitals, and even the Airmen on base,” she said. “I’ll do anything I can to help keep them safe, so they can keep us safe.”

Cynthia said the most difficult part of the whole process isn’t the design or assembly of the masks, but actually finding the material for them.

“Black and blue fabric is almost impossible to find in the local area, and provide masks for those in need with the base being nearby. Sewing the masks isn’t a problem for me, I know how to use these,” she said pointing to the pair of sewing machines she has staged in her basement workspace.

The Wrights have completely changed around their basement to accommodate the need for sewing machines and folding picnic tables turned to cutting tables and workspaces; doing anything and everything they can to help provide a mask for those who cannot afford one, or simply cannot find or make one.

Cynthia said in the rough time the country is having with the pandemic, it has been heartwarming to see the good-natured people unite against a common enemy.

“After we made the first two-hundred masks, I thought to myself ‘Awesome, we’re done,’ then I realized… we’re not done. The requests kept coming in and coming and I tearfully realized ‘we’re not even close to done,” Cynthia said. “This time period is a part of history, I tell my kids to take their masks and keep them, put ‘em in a box or something because it is a huge part of our history.”