Medical workers in Goshen wear homemade masks provided by residents.

ELKHART — Protective gear like masks and gowns are in huge demand at local health care facilities as nurses and doctors fight the coronavirus, county officials say.

But residents are doing their part to help health care workers help the rest of us. In Elkhart, one mask-making project that started with Ami Tack contacting her mother-in-law, Christine Tack, is growing quickly.

“I reached out to her because she can sew and I can’t sew,” Ami Tack said. “And I just picked up all the supplies and did a lot of the hand sewing and stuff, and we made 20 masks and gave them to my sister’s doctor’s office over the weekend.”

They realized the need after staff members at that doctor’s office, where Tack’s sister is a nurse, were asked to give their medical masks to the hospitals.

“I wanted to make sure my sister was kept healthy,” Tack said.

The Tacks found instructions for making homemade masks online and used quilting scraps and pool filters, though it took a little while to get it right.

“Trial and error,” Tack said. “I started by using vacuum cleaner bags and they didn’t really work very well, and then I chopped apart a couple of different furnace filters and they weren’t ideal.”

After she posted about the project on Facebook, the owner of local RV supplier ObeCo reached out.

“He’s got 20 sewing machines and some people kind of sitting dormant, and we’re going to work on this together and start getting some more masks made through his production facility,” Tack said.

With the campaign comes an additional need for fabric and filters. People who want to donate can get in touch at or make drop-offs at ObeCo Inc., 2521 Industrial Parkway in Elkhart.

“A little spark turned into a big fire, and it’s kinda cool,” Tack said.

For those who want to start making masks themselves, www.coronavirus.beacon has information on how to make them. To arrange pickup or delivery of masks, contact bhssupply

Susan King, president of Beacon Health Foundation, said Beacon Health wants every employee and every hospital patient to get a mask.

“We’re trying to conserve our current supply of face masks that we are able to get from vendors and the community for those that are applying direct patient care, and we have a limited supply at the moment,” she said.

And getting this kind of support from the community, both companies and residents, is special.

“It’s really amazing,” King said. “It makes our front-line caregivers feel really supported as they’re fighting this every day on the front lines.”

Homemade masks are not for medical staff dealing with patients who might have COVID-19, she said. Professional-grade masks are needed for that, as homemade masks are not as effective at keeping out particles.

“But they certainly do cut down on potential infection for the wider community,” she said.

So far, King estimated Beacon has received about 2,000 masks, and more are coming.

When it comes to what materials are used, King said there is some flexibility.

“We’d like it to be a tight, closed weave,” King said. “We’re suggesting cotton, but it doesn’t need to be.”

In Elkhart, finished masks can be dropped off at the Elkhart Police Department, 175 Waterfall Drive, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and in Goshen, at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair office 24 hours a day. The fair office is at Gate No. 3, 17746 C.R. 34.

Outside of health care facilities, it is not recommended that healthy citizens wear masks.

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter at @ReadRasmus

(9) comments


Just FYI, Lavanture Products has 100,000 masks coming in next week that they are selling, but for a pretty steep price compared to what they would normally go for.


I guess you are the go to info person here! It's against the law to price gouge in an emergency situation. Report this to the State Attorney General!


Sadly it has been my experience that the backlash of doing the right thing and reporting somthing is generally not worth it. Maybe the Elkhart County Prosecutors Office will do their job and investigate. Who knows, maybe it is within the law.


Susan King, why is the hospital refusing to give masks to those that Elkhart General contracts with? Such as those signing up low income patients without insurance so the hospital gets paid? If they work in a hot spot such as the hospital do you not owe it to them to provide this basic protection? After all they are just trying to get you paid!

Joe King

It’s nice they can do this, but it’s embarrassing this country did nothing to prepare for this. We are now asking people to make mask, construction workers to donate theirs and it’s ok if nurses where bandannas. Embarrassing and deadly. We ask our nurses, doctors and first responders to be the first ones in to help and they can’t even help themselves. Trump knew about this back in January. 3 months to prepare and nothing. I hope the nurses and doctors are careful, safe and can hold out.


The wisdumb of Joe shines through! Every president of the modern era has known of this possibility! Get off that huge left wing parrot Joe! Let me drop some catchy names...Tuberculosis, polio, mumps, measles, whooping cough, Spanish flu, Asian flu, H1N1, seasonal flu etc. Remember way back when Trump shut down entries to the country? And parrots called him racist and other derogatory names? I do! Of the over 5000 hospitals in the US only 20% are government owned. The other 80% are private and 50% of those are non profit! Why didn't those private not for profits make sure they had enough ventilators? Why didn't they have enough ventilators and masks? I guess they were too busy building new specialty hospitals. Because with all the money they make, they can't show a profit. But people like Raggidy Ann NAN just wanted to give the Kennedy Center $95 million and make sure that half the people sitting on any companies board that benefits from this stimulus are hourly workers. Nan tried to throw that socialistic thing in there. Got caught! Now she needs to pay the price!


Defend this Joe King -

Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg News: Federal stockpile of N95 masks was depleted under Obama and never restocked:


It's what happens when you have people in charge who place their priorities on their hobbies (volunteer firefighting) over doing the job they're paid to do. But the good old boy network is afraid to confront her due to her "preferences"


Thanks to all who are helping. Your efforts are very much needed and appreciated. Pitching in to help is so much more rewarding than trying to find blame for the virus.

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