Woman sews to help protect first responders

Published: Apr. 11, 2020 at 5:30 PM MDT
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Using an antique 1895 Singer sewing machine, Julie Webster is making something new for Jerome Harvey, the fire administrator of Pennington County Fire Service.

This is not the first time Harvey sees Webster's work, as Webster has been repairing and making alterations for first responders' uniforms for many many years.

"And now with the virus going on I'm making masks," says Webster.

Within about five minutes, a customized mask is ready. "I've been sewing all my life. My sister and I would sit in the laps of my grandmother, and my mother and my mother's sister, and that's what we always did," Webster explained.

Webster's parents were also first responders, and Webster says it's an honor to serve those who serve us. She knows emergency response crews don't get to work from home or keep safe social distancing during this pandemic.

"I have to protect them, because...," Webster pauses and is suddenly overcome with emotions, "they don't get the holidays off, they don't get the nights at home, so if I can keep them as safe in their gears as I possibly can, then I've done something good."

Webster also wants to credit three other women in the Black Hills who have also made masks for local emergency centers. Together, Webster and the others have donated about 1,000 masks so far. They even get orders from out-of-state.

"I've been sewing for other people for 35 years, and I finally learned, this is what I'm supposed to do," Webster claimed.