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Spouses make masks for military at Laughlin

Mallory Albers, Science Technology Engineering Mathematics Magnet school special education teacher at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, and Chelsea Truster, St. James Episcopal Pre-K teacher and Laughlin spouse, sort through uniforms donated for making approved masks for Laughlin Airmen on April 10, 2020. According to the office of the Secretary of the Air Force, the masks should be functional, cleaned and maintained in compliance with current Air Force instructions, and should cover the mouth and nose. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

Mallory Albers, Science Technology Engineering Mathematics Magnet school special education teacher at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, and Chelsea Truster, St. James Episcopal Pre-K teacher and Laughlin spouse, sort through uniforms donated for making approved masks for Laughlin Airmen on April 10, 2020. According to the office of the Secretary of the Air Force, the masks should be functional, cleaned and maintained in compliance with current Air Force instructions, and should cover the mouth and nose. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

Accompanied by canine companion, Sadie, Mallory Albers, Science Technology Engineering Mathematics Magnet school special education teacher at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, and Chelsea Truster, St. James Episcopal Pre-K teacher and Laughlin spouse, measure out patterns for face masks to help protect from COVID-19 on a uniform on base, April 10, 2020. Learning through trial and error, they work on perfecting their process for making face masks to match Airmen’s uniforms. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

Accompanied by canine companion, Sadie, Mallory Albers, Science Technology Engineering Mathematics Magnet school special education teacher at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, and Chelsea Truster, St. James Episcopal Pre-K teacher and Laughlin spouse, measure out patterns for face masks to help protect from COVID-19 on a uniform on base, April 10, 2020. Learning through trial and error, they work on perfecting their process for making face masks to match Airmen’s uniforms. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

Mallory Albers, Science Technology Engineering Mathematics Magnet school special education teacher at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, organized uniforms to be cut up for face mask material on April 10, 2020. Albers says she is glad as a spouse to be helping out the military community through her sewing skills. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

Mallory Albers, Science Technology Engineering Mathematics Magnet school special education teacher at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, organized uniforms to be cut up for face mask material on April 10, 2020. Albers says she is glad as a spouse to be helping out the military community through her sewing skills. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

Chelsea Truster, St. James Episcopal Pre-K teacher and Laughlin spouse, focuses on preparing her sewing machine for sewing face masks to protect Airmen of Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas on April 10, 2020. For her and for others, work has slowed down, and it can be difficult to stay occupied. Some have taken up learning new projects or increasing their skills on hobbies they may not have had time for before the virus. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

Chelsea Truster, St. James Episcopal Pre-K teacher and Laughlin spouse, focuses on preparing her sewing machine for sewing face masks to protect Airmen of Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas on April 10, 2020. For her and for others, work has slowed down, and it can be difficult to stay occupied. Some have taken up learning new projects or increasing their skills on hobbies they may not have had time for before the virus. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

A spool of thread is loaded in a sewing machine, ready for action. XL Sew Strong is a group, primarily of spouses from Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, who formed to sew reusable masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 for Airmen here. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

A spool of thread is loaded in a sewing machine, ready for action. XL Sew Strong is a group, primarily of spouses from Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, who formed to sew reusable masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 for Airmen here. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

Chelsea Truster, St. James Episcopal Pre-K teacher and Laughlin spouse, and Mallory Albers, Science Technology Engineering Mathematics Magnet school special education teacher at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, team up to sew reusable face masks that match Airmen’s uniforms on April 10, 2020. Both Truster and Albers got their first sewing machines when they were in their teens. While neither of them consider themselves a seamstress, they worked on sewing projects before such as quilts. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

Chelsea Truster, St. James Episcopal Pre-K teacher and Laughlin spouse, and Mallory Albers, Science Technology Engineering Mathematics Magnet school special education teacher at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, team up to sew reusable face masks that match Airmen’s uniforms on April 10, 2020. Both Truster and Albers got their first sewing machines when they were in their teens. While neither of them consider themselves a seamstress, they worked on sewing projects before such as quilts. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

Chelsea Truster, St. James Episcopal Pre-K teacher and Laughlin spouse, stitches a pattern for a protective face mask at her friend’s home on base on April 10, 2020. Becoming ever more familiar with her sewing machine, she’s discovered referring to YouTube can often help her solve issues with her machine when they occur. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

Chelsea Truster, St. James Episcopal Pre-K teacher and Laughlin spouse, stitches a pattern for a protective face mask at her friend’s home on base on April 10, 2020. Becoming ever more familiar with her sewing machine, she’s discovered referring to YouTube can often help her solve issues with her machine when they occur. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

Two members of XL Sew Strong, a group primarily of military spouses, have taken action and use their talents to sew face masks for the Airmen of Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. The materials are picked up in bags by members of the group, who then use DIY patterns to sew the masks. The materials are washed before pick-up and after being made into masks. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

Two members of XL Sew Strong, a group primarily of military spouses, have taken action and use their talents to sew face masks for the Airmen of Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. The materials are picked up in bags by members of the group, who then use DIY patterns to sew the masks. The materials are washed before pick-up and after being made into masks. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas—A club called XL Sew Strong, made primarily of Laughlin spouses, formed to use their tailoring talents to create face masks for Airmen. 

Face Masks are in limited supply due to the outbreak of COVID-19so numerous Laughlin and community members have taken up the task of sewing and creating their own reusable, protective face coverings. 

Val Verde County Judge Lewis G. Owens Jr. signed a declaration ordering county residents to wear face coverings while in public, April 14, 2020, to further slow the spread of COVID-19.

On April 9, Laughlin Air Force Base mandated face coverings when on the installation—especially for essential personnel who work within six feet of one another, in accordance with the guidance from the Department of Defense on the use of face coverings.

According to the article, “Air Force releases guidance on use of cloth face covers” from the office of the Secretary of the Air Force, any cloth items worn as face coverings (e.g., neck gaiters, neck warmers, balaclavas, etc.) should be functional, cleaned and maintained in compliance with current Air Force instructions, and should cover the mouth and nose.

In order to help Airmen meet these requirements, XL Sew Strong set up a system for making their own face masks for the base. The material is washed, bagged, and left at the chapel for sewers to pick up. The spouses collect their material and convert them into masks and drop them off once again at the chapel to be washed another time. The masks are then distributed to those in need.

One spouse from the group, Chelsea Truster, St. James Episcopal Pre-K teacher, says now things have slowed down and many are stuck at home with not much to do, it helps to stay busy.

Another from XL Sew Strong, Mallory Albers, a Laughlin Science Technology Engineering Mathematics Magnet school special education teacher said, “I’m glad as a spouse to be helping out the military community through my sewing skills.”

Because of XL Sew Strong, Laughlin Airmen such as the pilots, defenders, air traffic controllers, firefighters and others who continue to wear the uniform to maintain a ready force can do so safely.