TRAVERSE CITY — Janis Haine was sewing masks before they were cool.
Haine, who is 66 and lives in Mapleton, had her brother shop for groceries for her. She’d supply him with a face covering even though public health officials were merely talking about how effective masks would be at the time.
“I happened to have 20 red bandanas,” Haine said. “I made him a bandana to wear, a couple of them, and I just kind of went from there.”
The CDC then recommended cloth face coverings to start the month of April and Haine wanted to do more to help.
Fabric stores like Joanne and Hobby Lobby were closed as the state entered a stay-at-home order for months. Textiles from online retailers started to have high demand.
Orders Haine would make would either be canceled or not show up at all.
So just after she returned from visiting family in North Carolina, Haine found a box full of fabric in her crawlspace she’d brought with her after moving from California.
She started sewing homemade masks for her brother and husband, eventually ‘selling’ the masks for $10 a piece with all funds donated to the Traverse City Baby Pantry.
“I just set up my sewing machine in my living room and I looked out on the bay every day,” Haine said. “It wasn’t so bad, sewing for hours and hours.”
More often than not, people donated more than what the masks cost. Haine ended up with $1,000 in donations and provided masks to 27 people.
“Some people gave just $10 more but I had another woman give $120 extra,” Haine said. “I was quite encouraged by everybody that came out to buy a mask. It was something they needed also.”
She decided to give the money to the Baby Pantry because they were one of the charities that the Old Mission Women’s Club traditionally donated to, of which Haine is a member and newly elected president.
“We had to cancel all of our fundraisers this year, I know quite a few of them were some of our larger ones because of the pandemic,” Haine said. “I said well, I’ll give the next $1,000 to them.”