Borrego Springs soroptimists have you covered
Beginning April 6, a COVID-19 Fact Sheet was composed by Soroptimist Linda Stanley, and designed with local logos and contacts by Ellen Fitzpatrick, both Borrego Springs Soroptimist members. These fact sheets were distributed ahead of the Borrego Springs COVID-19 Task Force information was eventually dispersed to all Borrego Springs P.O. Boxes.
Distributed along with the Fact Sheet were bandanas, initially purchased in batches by more Borrego Soroptimists, Gloria Gustine and Judy Stewart, for making DIY masks with hair ties. Bandanas proved to be very popular. (Honestly, the men like them just to wear like bandits.)
The Mask Displays were immediately accepted by Center Market and Desert Pantry grocery stores, so customers could comply with California mask requirements. Following them, Village Liquors & Market, Calico’s, Jilberto’s, Community Valley Bank, Red Ocotillo and Carlee’s all accepted a counter display for our Mask Project, and began collecting donations of $1 each. Customers were both enthusiastic and generous. Within two weeks, our public service project became a profitable ‘business’. At that time the mask committee could hardly keep the mask displays filled.
Local Borrego businesses, attempting to remain open during the quarantine, were critical to holding the line on social distancing and mask wearing. It’s fair to say that not all Californians were ready, able, or happy to suddenly be required to wear a mask. Even today, three months later, masks are currently required on staff but “suggested” for customers in other part of California. The fact that Borrego businesses chose to make masks mandatory and recognize the particular risks that a tourist town faces is a credit to their own personal integrity and concern for the safety of their staff.
The Borrego Springs Soroptimists are grateful to be able to offer shoppers a mask should they not have one. Residents and visitors shopping here have supported the project wholeheartedly and continue to contribute generously and purchase masks at all the locations.
April 14, we received a donation of sewn medical masks from the Palomar Hospital Volunteer Sewers. We received 150 masks, followed by another 280 masks two weeks later. They disappeared overnight from our displays, as customers seemed to be buying multiples of the colorful, washable masks! Our distribution expanded out to West Shores at the Salton Sea, with donations of masks to Ocotillo Wells’ students in the school lunch program. BCHF Cottages and the Food Bank also received our masks free of charge.
Demand for masks Outstrips Supplies
Meanwhile, the supply could not keep up with demand, and bandanas became impossible to get. Our ‘business’ got creative and began cutting TEE shirts into rectangles with ear slots, which are amazingly comfortable! And, in fact, look nice with screen-printed logos. That led to Wild Heart Company Screenprinting’s Cristina Mitchell, who offered to print various business logos on the TEE masks, with the assistance of Graphics You Can Trust.
Frugal Coyote and the American Legion’s Bargain Barn contributed batches of used TEES and the project grew again. This opened up the opportunity for businesses to sponsor a TEE Mask, at $50 for 50 masks, and the Soroptimists receive the $1 donation when the masks are purchased. So far, more than 200 TEE Masks have been printed and distributed, with new orders now coming in from local mask sponsors.
On May 23, 500 more medical masks from Palomar came to Borrego. Here we are in June and it looks like mask requirements will continue through summer, so we will keep up the cutting, printing and bagging three types of masks for the shopping community.