Sew Much to Give
Like most of us during the pandemic, Mallory Brock, RN, BSN, 4 Henson Hall, wanted to do something to help.
Unlike most of us, she knew just what to do.
Mallory has been sewing for the last 10 years. It’s a skill she learned from her grandmother as a child and picked up again after having children of her own. She makes quilts and other items for her online Esty store and sometimes sells at a local boutique.
In May of 2020, she began using her skills to sew homemade face masks. At first, it was just for friends and family and her Etsy shop. Then, she decided to sell them to raise funds to support the hematology/oncology patients and families she works with as a nurse on 4 Henson.
“It gave me something to focus on at that point in the pandemic,” said Mallory. “It was a way to focus on doing something good.”
She reached out to her leadership to find the best avenue to help those families with children undergoing treatment for cancer or blood disorders during the pandemic. “They knew I wanted to donate to our patient population,” said Mallory. They recommended the Erin Andra Wilson Foundation, which provides support to families of children with cancer and blood-related illnesses being treated at CM.
Mallory was familiar with the foundation, named after Erin Wilson, a patient who was treated at Children's Mercy. She went to nursing school with Erin’s sister. “That made it even more exciting to me because I had a personal connection with their foundation and that’s who leadership recommended. It worked out perfectly,” she said.
She started promoting the masks by word-of-mouth, then Facebook, selling them for $5 each. It was mostly friends, co-workers and family. Then she created a Google form to make it easy for people to order.
Sales grew as mask mandates increased and disposable masks became hard to find. “It ended up being a lot bigger than I thought it would be,” she said.
She created dozens of styles, allowing requests for everything from colors to sports teams to popular children’s characters. “I just liked the idea of making something that people liked to wear,” she said.
To create so many masks in such a short amount of time, she would sew while watching Netflix or listening to audiobooks after her kids went to bed. “It was a lot of hours, a lot of shows and books,” she said. To use the most of her time, she had an assembly line process. “If you walked into my house at that point it looked like a mask factory.”
People were especially interested in supporting Mallory’s fundraising efforts.
“People were just very generous,” she said. Many customers made additional donations or paid extra for the masks when they learned about the fundraiser. A co-worker who ordered several masks always gave $10 instead of $5 because she knew it would help their patients.
One customer, an elderly man living in a rural community, mailed Mallory a thank-you letter after receiving his mask order. “Thank you for making a difference,” the note included, along with another order for a friend. Moments like that made an impact on Mallory. “In a year where we lost a lot of connection and personal interactions, it made it a little easier to get through,” she said.
By June, Mallory had made more than 1,000 masks and raised $6,400 for the foundation. On June 5, 2020, she posted the announcement on Facebook: “Today I donated $6,400 raised from my face mask sale to Erin Andra Wilson Foundation,” she began, before thanking everyone who purchased a mask.
She concluded her post by acknowledging the work of the foundation: “They are an amazing example of turning dark days into bright hope,” she said.
Words that are also fitting for people like Mallory and their bright efforts during an otherwise dark time.