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Unprecedented Times Leads to Making a Difference in a Small Way by Making Masks for South Dakotans

Posted by Julie Gross, USDA Rural Development State Director for South Dakota in Coronavirus Rural
Apr 27, 2020
Katie Hammer on her sewing machine
Katie Hammer took to her sewing machine to make a difference in her community. Photo courtesy of Katie Hammer.

The captivating landscapes of South Dakota are still awe inspiring amid the COVID-19 crisis. Equally encouraging are USDA Rural Development employees here in South Dakota who are working to support our customers and continue the delivery of our programs by offering the highest level of customer service during this widespread pandemic.

Amidst the uncharted territory of overcoming the impacts of COVID-19, two employees have volunteered their personal time to make protective face masks, which are a type of personal protective gear used to protect individuals from the transmission of airborne particles and liquid contamination. Many states have mandated that when you are out in public, you must cover up.

Rural Development Specialist Katie Hammer has made 12 masks for friends that work at Veterans' Affairs, Monument Health, Rapid City Medical Center, and Safeway. Katie used the template for masks recommended by Monument Health. The masks are designed to be worn over the N95 mask, with the hope that it will help prolong the life of the N95.

Rural Development Community Programs Director Tim Potts and his wife Marcia, along with several friends, have made 550 masks that were shared with the Veterinarian Clinic, Eye Clinic, City of Sturgis employees, Monument Health, grocery store employees, Meade School lunch workers, Litchfield, MN family members, as well as shared with family and friends in Sioux Falls, SD, Montana, and Colorado. The husband and wife duo, along with several friends, worked with a Thrivent Action team grant and Tom’s T’s in Sturgis to make additional masks available for the elderly at the local pharmacy and grocery store.

I am proud of everything my entire staff is doing to help communities throughout the state. I am especially proud of Katie and Tim.

These two employees are just a small piece in the mask making business. However, their drive and dedication to help others is to be commended. There are so many ways for each of us to do our part in these unprecedented times, and it is comforting to know that South Dakota staff can make a difference in a small way by helping others.

Tim Potts working
Tim Potts spread his commitment to helping during COVID-19 far and wide, spanning multiple states. Photo courtesy of Tim Potts.
Category/Topic: Coronavirus Rural