Shawnee quilter Carolyn Spohn stitches hundreds of masks during COVID-19 pandemic

Shawnee quilter Carolyn Spohn has stitched at least 500 masks since the start of the COVID-19 shutdown this spring.

A Shawnee quilter joins the growing throng of mask-makers in the Shawnee Mission area who have been stitching since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After a few of her quilting friends started talking on their group text about making masks during the pandemic, Carolyn Spohn thought that was a good idea.

“I’m a retired nurse, and I care about people. And this is such a bad situation. I’m 83; there’s not a whole lot I can do. But this is something I can do that can help with the situation. I call it my ‘mask parade’ project.”

Shortly after buying elastic and other supplies, she began stitching masks for friends and family, including her husband of 62 years, Paul. Once she knew everyone had their own mask, she kept going. She expects she’s made at least 500 by now.

“As a quilter, I have lots and lots and lots of fabric,” she said. “We quilters tend to buy fabric just because there’s a project we think we might use it on.”

Spohn donates all of her masks to charities and other organizations that have special significance for her and her family. She’s given a lot of masks to her next-door neighbor who is a nurse at Children’s Mercy. She also donates to Kansas City Cancer Action Network, especially since her oldest daughter, Jennifer, lost her battle with cancer 16 years ago.

Finally, she began donating masks to the Pine Ridge Reservation in North Dakota and the Navajo Nation after learning that those communities needed masks as well.

Her other daughter, Liz Combs, is also helping with the masks by doing some busy work like finishing the edges or cutting elastic.

Some people who received masks from her have helped her resupply her fabric stock.

“Quite a few people have given me money that I’ve used to buy materials, so that’s really helped,” Spohn said. “I’m so appreciative of all the people that have shared funds with me to keep doing this. By what they’re doing, I’ve not had to spend money out of my pocket. I just provide the labor and the fabric. It’s kind of a win-win deal.”

Spohn gets most of her fabric from Addadi’s Fabrics in Overland Park. She plans to keep making masks.

“I haven’t quit; I’m going to keep going as long as I can for as long as it’s needed,” she said. “I just feel those are little bits of things that I can do.”