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.