When Director of Quality for OU Physicians Erin Bailey needed thousands of masks to help protect patients with compromised immune systems from Covid-19, she knew exactly who to call. She selected the number from her favorites list, and the call was answered right away.
"Sarah, I have a really big ask," said Erin.
"The answer is yes," responded Sarah Bailey, cousin and administrative assistant for Oklahoma Christian University's College of Biblical Studies.
Erin needs a mask for each patient who comes into any of OU's 60 clinics. Medical masks must be used for healthcare workers, but the patients are at risk as well. All non-essential patient visits are canceled, so these are individuals who must receive treatment. One clinic of the 60 is a cancer treatment facility that sees 600 patients each day. That location needs 1,200 masks to have a day's supply for patients and enough to wash and sanitize for the next day.
The need is great, but Sarah has an army to deploy.
"My first call was to Andy Lashley, the involvement minister of our church. He put the word out in his weekly email, another email just for this need and specifically reached out to church members who sew and craft as a hobby," said Sarah.
Memorial Road Church of Christ, located at 2221 East Memorial Road, adjacent to OC's campus, has a membership of 2,600 people. Sarah has equipped 75 people with patterns and instructions and the number of volunteers is steadily growing. An assembly line across Oklahoma City and Edmond involves some who cut the fabric, others who sew the masks and helpers who pick up and deliver.
"This is a great example of the way ministry often happens at Memorial Road. One of our members saw the need and stepped up to address it," said Lashley. "It is the grassroots church doing what the church is supposed to do. It is awesome to see so many volunteer their time and resources to make hundreds and hundreds of masks that are needed right now. These are the kinds of things that God's people should be known for."
OC student Merideth Langley works on campus as a resident assistant and she is a member of Iota Kappa Phi. When Langley learned about the need, she immediately thought of all of the fabric leftover from creating her club's Spring Sing costumes. Langley got a pattern and cut enough to make 400 masks!
"People who sew, and others like Merideth, often have a stock pile of fabrics on hand. The hard part is finding elastic," said Sarah. "The night before all nonessential businesses closed I called every craft store and Walmart within driving distance."
Sarah persisted through her list of phone calls, and God provided the needed elastic with the very last number. The store was sold out, but the person who answered the phone used elastic in his personal business. He was willing to sell!
"So, yes, I met a man I did not know, in a parking lot to buy a bolt of elastic out of the trunk of a car," said Sarah. "What could go wrong?"
Since that night, Sarah has purchased four more bolts of elastic that the team of volunteers are turning into protective masks at the rate of 100-plus each day.
"The quality of the church-made masks is holding up well through laundering, unlike some of the mass-produced donations we have received," said Erin. "These masks are really helping our patients."
If you want to help protect these vulnerable patients, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to:
donate fabric, thread or elastic
volunteer to cut
volunteer to sew
volunteer to pick up and deliver
*top photo: Sarah Bailey