Kim Weyer of Eckelson watched more than 50 videos on how to make a face mask that people could use due to the coronavirus pandemic. A board member of the Jamestown Cancer Support Group, she thought she could sew some masks and raise money that the group could use to support cancer patients.
On April 8, she began placing them at Babb’s Coffee House.
“If I made $100 I’d be kind of happy,” she said she thought at the time. “And then it just took off, I couldn’t even keep up. I made 875 (masks).”
The face masks are available for a suggested donation of $5 apiece. So far, $3,115 has been raised that will be used for gas cards and chemo bags for cancer patients. There are still about 70 masks available.
“We’re seeing the numbers are going up,” she said, referring to COVID-19 cases in Stutsman County. “I’ll make them (masks) as long as the need is there.”
Weyer said she did a lot of research on face masks before deciding to use a pattern created by a nurse that she found on YouTube. She couldn’t find elastic so she used poly-coated rope so the cord can be pulled tight on the cotton material of the mask. The cord doesn’t bother the ears of people who have to wear them for a long time, she said.
Weyer initially worked 12 to 13 hours days making the masks, spending about 30 minutes on each one. Now, she can make one in about 20 minutes.
“I got better as time went (on),” she said.
The Jamestown Cancer Support Group provides $150 gas cards for people getting cancer treatment to help cover travel expenses. The gas cards are not given based on need.
“They (recipients) can get two (gas cards) in one year,” said Barb Togstad, a board member of the cancer support group. “Some people were saying, ‘Well, is this going to be needed now that we have the (JRMC) cancer center here?’ Yes it is, because of the surrounding communities.”
“Not everyone goes to the cancer center,” Weyer said. People are also seeking treatment in Fargo, Bismarck or Rochester, Minnesota, and other places as well.
The cancer support group provided 78 gas cards to cancer patients in 2019 and has provided 18 so far in 2020. The number of cards provided so far this year is believed to be down right now because of fewer people traveling for treatment due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Vicki Thu of Jamestown said she was diagnosed with cancer last fall and traveled 8,200 miles between November and March for treatment in Fargo.
She said she received a $150 gas card from the Jamestown Cancer Support Team when her treatment began.
“... we just appreciated it so much that we decided when things settled down that we were going to do something to pay them back and make sure somebody else could get a gas card,” she said.
Thu's family held a garage sale on June 6 and donated all the money raised - $428.14 - to the group.
She said it would be “huge” if someone gave you a $150 gas card at any time - and especially so when fighting cancer.
“It sure helped in the scheme of things,” she said.
Weyer said while one or two gas cards don’t cover all costs they do help patients at a time when expenses add up quickly.
“I think it makes a lot of difference,” she said. “I think not only does it make a difference financially, I think it makes a difference for people emotionally to know that there’s support, that people kind of have their back, have a little bit of empathy for them.”
Serving 6 counties
The Jamestown Cancer Support Group, a nonprofit which has been in existence for about 10 years, serves people in six counties: Stutsman, Barnes, Dickey, Eddy, Foster and LaMoure.
When they provide a gas card they also include a form that patients can return to get a chemo bag free of charge.
“A chemo bag is a really cute little bag that I put together with a lot of little goodies for when they go into their chemo (treatment),” Weyer said. “We kind of tried to make them gender related.”
The cloth bags contain about $30 worth of items like a water bottle, blanket, snacks, word search or other activity book, journal book, candy, lip balm and bootie socks along with other items. There’s also room in them for things like paperwork from treatment, an iPad or a small laptop, Weyer said.
The bags are either delivered directly to people and are available at JRMC Cancer Center.
For more information on the group or to get a gas card or chemo bag, contact Laurel Haroldson, 701-269-9543.