By Amber Hayden
COLFAX — Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic hospitals, nursing homes, and essential businesses have asked for donations of cloth masks to help with the personal protection equipment (PPE) shortage.
Small business owner Angela Rebak saw the request and stepped up to help fill the need for the masks and kept track on a white board, all the while posting her progress on Facebook.
“I’m just doing my part, it isn’t much, but I’m trying to help in any way I can in these times of need,” Rebak said. “God gave me a talent, and I’m using it.”
Rebak is originally from Birchwood, but lives south of Colfax off of State Highway 40 with her husband, Ed, and step sons Gunner and Hunter.
When the Safer at Home order began, Rebak was sewing masks for individuals and placing them in plastic sandwich bags and then into a paper bag which everyone was able to retrieve from her mailbox so there was no interaction and social distancing was followed.
Rebak kept tally marks on a whiteboard until there was no space left and she had 715 masks completed. Since then she has erased the board several times over to keep track.
“I’m pretty sure I’ve got bigger muscles up in my shoulders from all the time at the machine,” she stated.
When she first started making the masks, the only donation she had asked for was fabric or elastic as both materials were seeming impossible to find after people flocked to the stores and bought out fat quarters and 3/8 inch elastic.
Rebak has continued to work tirelessly throughout the day as she sewed her first 1,000 masks by April, and has continued with the help of others in the Colfax community donating supplies.
But since April, she has asked for small donations for those in need of a mask so she is able to purchase supplies seeing as the blades for her rotary cutter and needles for her machine have begun to dull and break.
“I still want to donate, but the cost for needles and blades is pretty expensive,” Rebak explained.
Her most recent donation was 240 masks for Papa Murphy’s Take-N-Bake pizza, and themasks were passed out to all of the Wisconsin locations.
She also donated 100 masks to a local EMT/Fire Department, which were made of red, white, and blue fabric.
“When they, Papa Murphy’s, first approached me, they had wanted me to make and donate masks for all of their locations, not just in Wisconsin,” explained Rebak. “But I agreed to just the Wisconsin stores, and with Ed and Gunner’s help, I was able to get them finished and delivered.”
Gunner has also helped Rebak in her mask making endeavor, which has given her a small break from her sewing machine when she has needed it.
Her donations have earned her the title of a local hero for her countless hours making and donating masks, and she added she would be back at her machine again to help fill the basket for those in need.
With the ability to open the greenhouse, she has moved the small basket of masks inside the front office, and customers are allowed to pick one up during their visit.
To date, Rebak has donated over 3,000 masks to a variety of businesses and nursing homes, along with orders from individual families that she has fulfilled.
When she isn’t sitting at her sewing machine, Rebak can be found just down the driveway at Whitetail Organics, the business she and her husband own.