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South Tampa women connect to make face masks for health care workers, military members

Mary Ann Jorgensen and KC Harrison connected on Nextdoor and have made hundreds of face masks and coverings for health workers and others.

TAMPA, Fla. — The demand for face masks and face coverings is growing, but the supplies are limited.  

Neighbors are now working together to make them for medical workers, military service members and those who work with seniors or others with underlying health conditions.

Mary Ann Jorgensen and KC Harrison are working to fill the void. A Nextdoor post in their South Tampa neighborhoods connected the women and they are now turning out hundreds of masks.

“Every night, every day, I make these little masks. I have a stack. I’m like a little production company. I sew until one or two in the morning,” Jorgensen said.

Jorgensen has a certificate in millinery from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. She loves to sew.

Harrison says she hasn’t touched a sewing machine since high school. But, seeing the need for masks, she decided she would teach herself how to sew again.  

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She posted on Nextdoor looking for a sewing machine and had an overwhelming response from neighbors willing to help.

“People just started dropping this wonderful fabric on my front porch,” she said.

It’s what sparked Jorgensen to get involved.  

“I thought, 'everybody in the world’s going to be making those, I’m not going to, they don’t need me,'" she said. "And then I realized people weren’t making them."

She’s made 286 in the last two weeks and more are on the way. Jorgensen said she's helped doctors, nurses, physical therapists and Meals on Wheels. The one thing she’s clear about: the masks are not for sale. They are a gift of her time and effort.

“I think about the person that’s going to put that mask on. I think about what they’re going through at that time and it’s a sobering thought,” she said.

Harrison has now recruited her husband. They have two sewing machines on the dining room table and they’ve transitioned to making face coverings for service members who, starting Wednesday, will be required to wear them at MacDill Air Force Base.

“It relieves stress because you’re actually doing something about it,” she said.

Jorgensen says like their masks, she and Harrison have a purpose.

“One little person, like me, an every day person can help and I think people want to help and once they have a little direction or guidance or a little push we can all help and that for me is what it’s all about,” she said.

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This story was inspired by a local resident whom Courtney Robinson connected with on Nextdoor. She’s looking to share the positive stories of neighbors helping neighbors. Click here to see and comment on Robinson’s Nextdoor posts.

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