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Mother Daughter Team Creates Hundreds of Mask Extenders

April 29, 2020 8:18 a.m.

  • Lylia Andrews and Pam Waddell

After learning about the discomfort healthcare workers endure after wearing masks for long shifts, Sarah Bush Lincoln volunteers Pam Waddell and her mother, Lylia Andrews, decided to get busy making extenders to ease their pain.

“My daughter-in-law and my step-daughter are both nurses and they talked about how sore their ears get from wearing the masks so we decided to see what we could do to help out,” Waddell said. The mother, daughter duo started sewing buttons of all shapes, sizes and colors on ribbons and headbands to extend the masks and keep the elastic off the ears. To date, they have made and donated 750 mask extenders and headbands to Sarah Bush Lincoln with plans to keep making more as long as they are needed.

“They are really simple to make and it feels good to help out. I just got some more headbands in today,” Waddell said. “I’m also enjoying the extra time I get to spend with my mother and I’m learning more about my mother and heritage in the process.”

Waddell’s mother told her that the many button sewing sessions remind her of watching her grandmother and aunt gather with neighborhood women to knit socks for soldiers during World War II. “Knitting to help the war effort and keep the soldiers warm was a major priority in those days just as this is a priority now,” Waddell said. “People are doing whatever they can to help out.”

Sarah Bush Lincoln Foundation Director Amy Card said, “Being willing to just jump right in and help us out is very appreciated. We really are thankful for their willingness to do that for us.”

Waddell has served as a volunteer at Sarah Bush Lincoln for more than 10 years, where she leads a group of volunteers, including her mother, in making arts and crafts to deliver to people receiving care. She also works in the Gift Shop and serves on the Volunteer Guild Board of Directors. She is currently the board’s incoming president.

“Volunteering is in our family,” Waddell added. “My father used to make and donate wooden memory boxes to Sarah Bush Lincoln for parents who experienced a stillbirth or infant loss. I’m not sure what motivated him to do it, but I feel like I’m carrying on the tradition – just in a different way.”