Mary Ann Laverty knows her way around Brevard County.
In the last year she’s put nearly 24,000 miles on her new Honda Passport, nearly all of it spent delivering cloth face coverings and sewing supplies to members of the Brevard Mask Makers sewing group.
“I did not expect to be driving as much as I’ve been driving this year, but you know it’s been worth it,” she said as she pulled her car onto US-1 in Cocoa.
She said it’s worth it because her efforts have allowed the roughly 500 members to make 37,000 masks since March.
“If you’re over 65 they recommend you stay indoors,” Laverty said, as she drove south, boxes of fabric stacked behind her. “The only way we could make this work is if someone could deliver supplies. So we devised a system by which I would sort of, under cover of night, deliver all those supplies.”
Laverty is Chapter Coordinator for Project Linus, a volunteer led nonprofit that makes blankets for seriously ill, traumatized or needy children. When the need for medical grade face coverings was urgent at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Laverty thought her group could help.
“The PPE situation seemed pretty dire. So I posted on some Facebook groups asking if anyone could sew and would want to help,” Laverty said. “At the time I didn’t think it was going to get as big as it did and last as long as it’s been needed.”
She named the new group, Brevard Mask Makers and since then she’s been the glue that’s held it together.
“I don’t sew,” Laverty laughs. “I organize and handle the back end logistics. Just because I couldn’t sew wasn’t going to stop me from helping.”
Helping means a lot of time in her car. She goes from member house to member house picking up and dropping off supplies.
“The truth is, with most of the members I haven’t even met them in person” Laverty laughs. “We just work by leaving packages for each other.”
Over time the need has evolved. Brevard Mask Makers initially made masks for health care and front line workers. As supplies became available to those workers the focus shifted to their clients. “We’d go back to some of those facilities and then we were providing masks for their clients (patients).
Today much of the effort goes towards schools. Children often lose or forget their masks and need replacements.
News 6 caught up with Laverty as she arrived at Endeavor Elementary In Cocoa. She pulled a couple of plastic bags out of her back hatch to show us some samples. They are bright, colorful and covered in child friendly patterns and graphics.
“These are the teacher’s masks. We’ve got those with the apples on them and then we’ve got some children’s masks. We make them small to fit their faces,” Laverty said.
School faculty met her at the door.
“We are in masks all day, all the time,” Endeavor Elementary Principal Chris Reed said. “Our students come on our campus every day with masks and if they don’t have masks we provide them with one.”
Reed said the school hands out about 100 masks a day for various reasons. “Most of those are disposable but this might be that mask that they keep and they make sure stays clean and that they bring each day,” Reed said.
Laverty also made a stop at Aging Matters Brevard. The group made 2,000 masks for their home bound clients as part of a holiday gift give away.
Marsha Plog is one of the Brevard Mask Maker volunteers. Plog says she’s made well over three thousand masks from her home in Cocoa. “I’m out here four to six hours a day,” she said. “Not only is there a need but there’s a need for me to do it. I need to do it for me. I need to have something worthwhile to do.”
Plog said she couldn’t do it without the help of Laverty who delivers supplies and picks up her finished masks. “I gave her a hundred this week and a hundred and something last week,” Plog said. “She’s phenomenal. She’s terrific and she’s working herself beyond belief to get this done.”
Plog leaves her finished masks under her carport for Laverty to pick up. They’ll go in the back of her car with all the others. Then it’s on to the next stop.
“If the people who sew want to continue to sew then I’ll continue to deliver them, Laverty said.
You can reach Laverty and Project Linus at: firstname.lastname@example.org