After closing her business due the coronavirus quarantine, a woman in small Lithuanian town started sewing facemasks. Not looking to make money, she hangs them on her fence for everyone to take.
Regina Šutaitė from Kelmė, a town of some 8,000 people in northwestern Lithuania, says her multi-coloured facemasks are very popular with the local community.
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“All I need to do is hang them up, take a photo, post it on Facebook – and they are gone,” Šutaitė tells LRT.lt. “People learn about them from others, from their neighbours, pensioners come for the masks, too. It turns out, they also use social media.”
Before the coronavirus quarantine, Šutaitė was selling second-hand clothes, but her business has come to a halt. She decided to start making facemasks to entertain herself during the downtime as well as to benefit the community.
“The first masks I made weren't very good, but then a friend gave me a pattern,” she says.
Several of her friends, who had also lost their jobs due to the quarantine, soon joined the initiative and now Šutaitė says she runs a proper facemask factory.
People from further afield, too, have contributed to the initiative.
“A woman in Šiauliai, after seeing our masks on Facebook, sent us a box of rubber bands by mail, even though I don't know her,” Šutaitė says.
The women insist on not taking money for the masks, saying they primarily want to equip the least well-off with protection from the virus.
“One day I saw a person in town who wore a dirty single-use mask. I approached him and said: come over, I'll give you a new one,” Šutaitė says.
She has also taken a batch of facemasks to a local farm.
Even though the masks are free, people find ways to return the favour, Šutaitė adds.
Oftentimes, neighbours leave chocolate bars, jars of honey or pastry baskets near her fence.
She has also received requests from people in other towns, including Vilnius, to mail them masks. “Some people are offering to pay, to cover the shipment.”
Šutaitė wants to emphasise that making facemasks is easy.
“I can share my patterns. Sewing a masks is not difficult, I am not a seamstress myself,” she says. “During this quarantine, people are wondering what to do. Sew, I tell them, all your concerns will be gone, you'll forget your problems.”