Editor’s note: The Virus Diaries is a series in which Mainers talk about how they are affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Denise Bordeaux says, “Making masks has been a big help with having to stay at home. It is a wonderful distraction and a wonderful way to help others in a small way.” Photo courtesy of Denise Bordeaux

Denise Bordeaux started making cloth face masks as a way to help family and friends. Since then, she has continued to produce the masks, trying to help others during the coronavirus pandemic.

She’s even handing them out to strangers.

“I started making masks when my daughter in Pennsylvania needed some for her employees,” Bordeaux said. “I then made some for friends and their families and/or their co-workers. I then noticed people at the grocery store without masks and started taking some with me. I would offer them to the workers first and then to customers who were not wearing masks.”

Bordeaux, 65, of Hollis, received a variety of responses to her friendly offer.

“Some people accepted them with thanks while others would either say they had one at home or said they were fine and didn’t need one. Some of the elderly were concerned they wouldn’t be able to breathe through them.

“The most surprising reaction was an angry refusal from a person without a mask who said they don’t accept anything from anyone they don’t know and (that they) didn’t know who I was or where I came from. At first, I was taken aback by the anger, but I realized it is true. She didn’t know me and had no idea what precautions went into making the masks.

“My first masks were made from cotton material I had left over from previous sewing projects, so they were all colors and patterns. When that mostly ran out, I went to Walmart and bought microfiber bed sheets. I had researched what was the best material to use for masks and one recommendation was microfiber material. I couldn’t find that, so I checked on sheets and that worked.

“The next problem was finding elastic. Who knew there would be a run on elastic due to a virus? There are many very nice people making masks so there is a shortage. My solution to the problem was to use ponytail elastics.

A sampling of cloth face masks made by Denise Bordeaux of Hollis. Photo courtesy of Denise Bordeaux

“My next problem was approaching people. At first, I would just ask them if they would like a mask. … Then my husband suggested I ask them if they would like a free mask. That helped.”

Bordeaux and her husband are from upstate New York. They moved to Maine when he was a pilot for Bar Harbor Airlines. They’ve lived in several parts of the state, from Presque Isle and Bangor to southern Maine. Like everyone else these days, they mostly stay in their house.

“Making masks has been a big help with having to stay at home. It is a wonderful distraction and a wonderful way to help others in a small way. If everyone would help in some small way, things would be better for everyone.”

Do you have a story to share about how you are affected by the coronavirus outbreak? Email us at [email protected]

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