Woman creates 'giving tree' with hundreds of homemade masks for local residents

The avid knitter felt driven to help out during the coronavirus pandemic.

April 20, 2020, 4:11 AM

An Iowa woman has gone above and beyond to make sure residents in her town have access to masks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Deb Siggins has made hundreds of homemade face masks for locals in Lisbon, Iowa, and hung them on a tree near her house.

The 55-year-old began making masks after one of her local hospitals, UnityPoint St. Luke's, put out a call for donations in late March due to a shortage.

"My goal was to make 100 and donate them to the hospital, but then my friends and family wanted some, too," Siggins told "Good Morning America."

PHOTO: Deb Siggins with her coworkers wearing the masks she made.
Deb Siggins with her coworkers wearing the masks she made.
Deb Siggins

She donated the supply she made to the hospital and then kept going. Siggins, who works at a doctor's office, estimates her current count is over 400 masks.

An avid knitter, she said she felt driven to use her skills to help out during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I just felt like [my sewing] is a gift that I could put it towards other people because it's a gift that god has given me," she said.

She came up with the idea to put her creations on a tree when she realized it was difficult to practice social distancing while handing them out.

"It was hard to reach everybody so I just put on Facebook that I had a mask tree."

Siggins said she and her husband typically decorate the tree for holiday celebrations, like Christmas and Easter.

"Instead of hiding eggs in the tree, we put masks on it," she said.

She and her husband watched as people visited the tree: "It was really cool to see people driving up, grabbing a mask and leaving. ... It's been a hit. "

The masks are first come, first serve and the tree usually holds about 30 at a time. Siggins is constantly refreshing the supply with fresh pattens and designs.

She covers all the costs of materials herself.

"I'm a giver, not a taker, so I feel really good," she said about how she feels when she sees people use her face coverings.

PHOTO: Deb Siggins (L) with her daughter, Amanda (R).
Deb Siggins (L) with her daughter, Amanda (R).
Deb Siggins

Siggins has also made masks for her co-workers, her local fire department, grocery store employees and is now working on more for the elderly patients at the medical practice where she works.

And she has no plans of stopping anytime soon. She plans to "keep doing it until the need isn’t needed anymore."

"There's a big demand out there," Siggins said especially after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began advising the use of cloth facial coverings during the novel coronavirus pandemic, even by those not exhibiting symptoms of the disease.

For more information on how to create masks, click here.

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