Klamath Falls, Oregon – Like Linus Van Pelt’s blue security blanket in Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic strip, fabric masks are giving many of us the confidence to face our world. Those masks are getting easier to find thanks to the skill and generosity of a local sewing group.

The Klamath chapter of Project Linus, which has donated over 17,000 handmade blankets to children over the past 13 years, recently shifted from making blankets to making face masks for essential workers. Over the past four weeks, the group has donated more than 4,750 face masks to sites including the Klamath Falls city schools, Klamath’s local fire departments, Sky Lakes Medical Center and Klamath Open Door.

Mills Elementary School teacher Libby Kerns is among Project Linus’s mask makers.

“I’m very proud of learning the mask pattern that was sent to the Project Linus group,” said Kerns, who joined the group’s annual Make a Blanket Day two years ago to learn how to quilt and how to use the sewing machine she inherited from her grandmother.

“I don’t know if I ever would have found the courage to try had it not been for the Make a Blanket days and the knowledge I learned from the fabulous women in the chapter.”

Kerns also launched the chapter’s Facebook page, which has been vital during social distancing for sharing information on mask requests and drop-off sites.

Emails from chapter coordinator Suzy Field also keep the group’s 200 members connected and able to share patterns and sewing tips.

“We have had to be pretty creative,” she said, noting workarounds when elastic was in short supply. “But it has been a really wonderful collaboration. We have an amazing group of generous volunteers, most using fabric and materials from their own supplies. My neighbor has made over 450 masks herself.”

Field also notes the generosity of My Little Quilt Shop and JoAnn Fabrics in Klamath Falls and Tater Patch Quilts in Merrill. All three have donated supplies and are serving as mask drop-off sites. She also notes that the Rocky Point quilt group has made at least 768 masks and that 885 Trim Shop has made over 1,300 for front-line workers, including the county school district.

“My counts may be off,” added Field, “as none of these incredible sewers wants recognition. Said one gal from Rocky Point, ‘You ought to go to bed every night knowing you’ve done some quiet good.’”

Blue Zones/Healthy Klamath is the current distribution site for Project Linus masks. Community groups or businesses in need of masks for essential workers may contact Suzy Field at suzyfield57@gmail.com.