In a time when we spend so much time indoors and are asked to social distance, finding a creative outlet can be a blessing. For Sue Kolar, sewing facemasks began as a project for friends and family and soon went on to mean so much more.

In a time when we spend so much time indoors and are asked to social distance, finding a creative outlet can be a blessing. For Sue Kolar, sewing facemasks began as a project for friends and family and soon went on to mean so much more.

Kolar says she decided to start the project to give herself something new to do in quarantine. With a large number of family members, she began crafting hand-sewn masks and sending them to family members in the Chicago area. Soon, her family’s word-of-mouth spread and she began receiving mask requests from all over. Months later, Kolar says she has sent masks to Las Vegas, Atlanta, Colorado and more.

The project started with just basic materials, thread and a needle. However, once the demand for the face masks rose, Kolar says she and her husband, who has helped with the project from the get-go, invested in a sewing machine which Kolar had never used prior. Besides a sewing class in high school, Kolar says she relied on the help of her neighbor to learn. Now that she's spent some time behind the machine, it’s made the process much more efficient.

“It’s been so fun to do,” Kolar said. “If I wasn’t doing this, I don’t know what else I would be doing!”

With so many orders coming in, Kolar was able to raise over $1,000 since April with the project. Instead of hoarding the money all for herself, she says she decided it would be better spent at a cause that she holds near to her heart. Kolar wrote a $1,000 to Dogwood Animal Shelter, which has been an organization that she and her husband have frequented over their 17 years at the lake.

Kolar says she sees the stress the pandemic has laid upon the shelter, on top of the overpopulation issues within the shelter, and thought the money could go towards food, cleaning projects and more for the animals inside.

Kolar plans to continue selling masks as long as they are needed and will donate another $1,000 to the shelter once the money is raised. For anyone wanting to purchase a mask for themselves or anyone else, Kolar says the best way to contact her is through her personal Facebook page.

Masks are washed before shipment and made with 100% cotton material. Some custom options are available. Masks come in three sizes: preschool (2-9 year old) for $5, teenage/women’s for $6 and adult male for $7 (these sizes are approximations as to what type of person they might fit). Any sports-themed masks cost $1 extra.

(Note: Sue would like to thank Looks salon and Dogwood thrift store for "selling my masks to help raise money for our furballs.")