How One City Employee’s Thoughtful Gesture Turned into “Mask” Production

Before COVID-19, Angie Nelson expected to return from her vacation to work at the Department of Parks, Recreation and Youth Services Arts and Crafts Building located in Burnet Park. She offers sewing, quilting and ceramic lessons to participants who want to learn a new hobby. As a Parks employee, Ms. Nelson has had a number of participants signup for her classes to do fun ceramic and cooking projects, many of them seniors, the population initially thought to be the most susceptible to the virus.

As closures took place statewide, Ms. Nelson began to think about her class participants, especially because social distancing became the norm before she was due back at work. She went from thinking about them and contemplating on how to make use of her time, to deciding on what she could do to help during this time of need – sew face coverings! The only obstacle she ran into was the need for materials, so she reached out to the team at Parks to see if could get to the fabrics used during sewing class.

Ms. Nelson had the personal contact information for pretty much all of the seniors who attended her class. With her sewing machine, elastic bands and jumbo ponytail hair ties, she began to make reusable masks to pass out in plastic sandwich bags to those who were encouraged to stay inside because they were vulnerable. She’d make calls and jump in her car to deliver masks to anyone who needed one by placing them in a mailbox, screen door, or on a front porch making sure she shared that they should wash before use.

No sooner than she began distributing masks on a regular basis, it was recommended that face coverings be worn when out on the public. She has made dozens or masks from donated materials, and with the recent directive from the Governor, she expects to need many more. The need for masks keeps her busy and Ms. Nelson plans to keep providing them until she runs out of supplies.

Her idea to help provide free masks to those in need has come just in the nick of time. Ms. Nelson is dedicated to continuing to help people stay safe and healthy by producing masks on in her spare time. She is a great example of a Syracusan who has joined the #TakeCareChallenge issued by Mayor Ben Walsh to encourage residents to spread face masks, not COVID-19.

To request a mask, please email angienelson05[at] Masks will be distributed based on availability and the number of requests.

All masks are made out of donated materials and should be washed according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended standards. By requesting and accepting a free mask, individuals acknowledge that the City of Syracuse is not responsible for any allergic reactions or any adverse physical responses.

Leave a Reply via Social