LONG LAKE — Alice Rancour said she and “a bunch of neighbors and friends” got together to make creations for the statewide homemade mask drive last weekend.

“A bunch of us girls decided it would be a good thing to do together, even though we weren’t really together,” said the Orono woman, who contributed nearly 75 masks to the local fire department.

“It was kind of a neat experience,” Rancour added. “The six of us all had our computers going, where we could see each other, so we could talk and sew at the same time. It was fun doing it that way.”

Thousands of masks were delivered during a four-hour stretch Saturday, April 25, to fire departments in the Lake Minnetonka area as part of the statewide drive. State officials had encouraged the creation and delivery of the masks to highlight the importance of frontline workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state's 775 fire departments will deliver those masks to local congregate living facilities for employees and residents to use. 

Mona Harmann of Long Lake dropped off about 60 homemade masks at the Long Lake Fire Department.

“It’s important to support the people, including the first responders and people at the assisted living facilities,” Harmann said when asked why she made them.

Long Lake Chief Jim Van Eyll estimated his department received about 650 masks on Saturday.

“I am impressed with the generosity of our neighbors,” he said.

Mary Coleman of Wayzata, who has made masks for other organizations’ efforts, made 10 masks that she dropped off at the Wayzata Fire Department.

“It’s just a good thing to do,” she said. “It’s the least I can do to help.”

Wayzata Fire Chief Kevin Klapprich said the department collected a little more than 300 masks on Saturday.

Other area fire departments brought in quite a haul of masks during the drive. The Excelsior Fire District collected 1,337 masks at its two fire stations, Fire Marshal Kellie Murphy-Ringate said.

In Minnetonka, the fire department received approximately 1,250 donated masks, said Matt Higgins, the city's senior communications coordinator.

The Mound Fire Department collected 696 homemade masks, which will be cleaned and sterilized before being distributed to residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and senior centers, the department said in a news release.

Meanwhile, in Plymouth, residents donated 2,657 face masks to the fire department, Fire Chief Rodger Coppa said, which will be donated to congregate care, senior housing, group homes and home health care organizations across the city.

"The drive was so successful that we are donating 1,000 of the masks collected to Hennepin County Emergency Management for redistribution to other communities," Coppa added.

Every community has a local fire station ready to respond in times of need, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different, John Harrington, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, said in a prepared statement. “We are grateful for the partnership of fire departments across the state for helping us get homemade masks delivered to where they are needed most.”


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