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Deputy, family make masks to protect frontline workers

South Boston News
The Lett family from left, David, Hailey, Dusty and Aubrey pose for a moment with masks made by Dusty. Mrs. Lett is a deputy sheriff with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Department and is producing masks for individuals and some organizations free of charge. / May 20, 2020
As Southside Virginia copes with a pandemic the likes of which the world hasn’t seen in a century, ordinary people are stepping up to help others in ways they can.

One example: individuals using their sewing skills to make personal protective equipment (PPOE) — breathing masks especially — and distributing them to health care workers, first responders and others in need.

A shining example, among many, is Dusty Carnes Lett. Lett is a resident of the Union Level area of Mecklenburg County and works full-time as a sheriff’s deputy. She is also raising two daughters along with her husband, David, on their farm.

Despite leading a very full and busy life — homeschooling, enforcing the law and taking care of her family — Lett has found time to sew protective masks for anyone who needs them.

Lett and her partner, Tammy Hurt, own a small business called Shiggles and Gits producing and selling handcrafted items at local shows, festivals and events. Hurt and her son Jackson, a rising freshman in high school, are also sewing masks.

“We started sewing masks back in February,” Lett said. “As soon as they’re complete they go out the door. There’s a high demand.”

When asked how she got started so early on in the contagion, Lett said, “We just thought there was going to be a need for them [masks] so we decided to start making them then.”

Her designs have gone through some changes since the beginning and while the masks are not medical masks per se, they meet the somewhat ambiguous CDC guidelines of “fabric face coverings.”

When asked about costs that she has incurred by producing the masks, Lett said that the expense has been minimal up to this point. “We’ve been using up fabric we have on hand until now, but that is about gone” she said, “and fabric, along with other supplies, has become very hard to find.”

Lett can be reached at (434)-210-2953 (leave a message). She will happily provide masks to anyone who needs one free of charge (when available) but will also gratefully accept any donations of new, unused, 100 percent cotton fabric, elastic or cash to purchase supplies.

Another example of generosity at work can be found on the shelves at the local Harbor Freight Store in South Hill. Shelves that are ordinarily stocked full of vinyl gloves are empty. In their place are signs stating the Harbor Freight’s entire supply of vinyl gloves has been donated to local medical organizations to help fight the pandemic.

As of the end of last week, there were a reported 152 cases of COVID-19 in Mecklenburg County. The county has seen three outbreaks of the virus in long-term care settings and 15 deaths as of Friday. The work by Lett and the Hurts, and donations by local businesses, couldn’t come at a more needed time.

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