QUINCY — The masks distributed by the Golden Kiwanis and Quincy Sewessentials on Wednesday came in nearly every color and pattern.
There were masks with fabric depicting dinosaurs, flamingos, superheroes and a little bit of everything in between.
"The goal was to have masks that were attractive to young people," said John Venegoni, a member of the Kiwanis Club's Mask Up Committee, which helped underwrite the cost of the masks.
The face coverings will be donated to more than 50 area children from low-income families who participate in the My Brothas My Sistas Keeper organization and to students in area schools.
Many of the masks are designed with clear plastic panels that make it easier to read lips, which club members believe will be useful when students return to schools for in-person learning.
"These lip-reading-friendly masks were made especially for those exceptional children who need to be able to read lips because they are deaf or hard of hearing," Venegoni said. The Kiwanis Club motto is "Serving the Children of the World."
The masks are also useful for older people who need to feel the human connection that comes from a friendly smile, says Debi Moore, one of the volunteers with Quincy Sewessentials.
Since its inception in March, a small army of 100 volunteers with Quincy Sewessentials has made more than 30,000 masks.
"We believe that demand is even greater for masks than back in March or April, because now we are trying to make sure that every kid and teacher has a mask that they can wear to school with confidence," Moore said.
She added, "For a child, the biggest thing is making sure that the mask fits them."
Volunteers with Sewessentials say they are still taking requests and have some masks available to purchase by donation on the group's Facebook Page.
Most of the masks donated on Wednesday come with adjustable straps, which can be tightened or loosened depending on the child.
Ivetta Cooper, director of My Brothas My Sistas Keeper agreed, saying that many families have struggled to find children's masks that fit and that children feel comfortable in wearing.
"There is so much in our world that has changed, and these kids know it. So the kids are naturally nervous about going back to school because of those changes. So for them to get a mask that fits, that makes them feel good and makes them have confidence about going back to school is huge," said Cooper.
She added that the masks not distributed on Wednesday will be given to other families.
The donated masks are especially meaningful for families who have three or four children and are trying to balance the costs of purchasing school supplies and buying masks that fit, Cooper said.
"So many families are struggling right now and simply can't afford to go to the store and buy masks for their children. These masks take that worry from them," Cooper said.
Moore and fellow Quincy Sewessentials volunteer Doris Dede said the children were never far from their minds while they stitched each mask together.
"If we can help even one person stay healthy and not become sick from this virus, then it is worth it. It is worth the time I spent at my sewing machine," Dede said.
She added that four family members have contracted and recovered from the virus.
Members of the Mask Up Committee, which also consists of Dave May, Ron Upper, Ron McClelland and Bruce York, say they are urging people to continue to wear a mask and to consider volunteering to make masks.
Volunteers can help cut fabric and elastic, sew, wash the cloth, bag the completed masks and other tasks. To volunteer, call Debi Moore at 217-430-8503.
Moore said, "Most of the people, including myself, get more from making the mask than anything else. For me, it is my sanity. It is my knowledge that I am doing something to help my community. It is knowing that I am needed, and we all need to be needed, especially now."