Employee makes hundreds of cloth facemasks for coworkers

By Dominique J. Shelton DLA Aviation Public Affairs Office

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While adjusting to telework and the new virtual workplace during the ongoing pandemic, one member of Defense Logistics Agency Aviation found a way to help others.

Charlotte Bell, an American Sign Language interpreter and equal employment opportunity specialist, made facemasks for coworkers while off duty. Recognizing that masks would become a mainstay in preventing virus spread, she believed disposable masks might soon be hard to come by.

“That's when I started researching making a cloth mask that could be laundered and reused to save money. Making them for the workforce just kind of evolved out of the friendships I've made here at DLA,” she said.

Bell has been sewing since childhood.

“When I was nine, my mom taught me how to make a pillowcase and how to hem,” she said, adding that she learned to use a sewing machine as she grew older.

Bell began making masks for friends and loved ones who didn’t have crafting skills or a sewing machine. She ultimately made about 500 masks, delivering them by mail and what she refers to as “drive and drops.”

“I delivered them by mailing them out or by driving to the individual locations and dropping them off,” she said. “It was fun seeing where everyone lived. I enjoyed getting out and seeing all of the smiling faces.”

DLA Aviation Deputy Commander Charlie Lilli rewarded Bell’s kindness by presenting her with a commemorative coin when she returned to the office. While many have thanked her, Bell said she was happy to help others.

“It’s nice to know you can help others even if it's not on a big scale or with a huge event. The smallest gesture of kindness can make a difference in someone’s life and perhaps help them when they need it most,” she said, adding that she was taught to be kind to others.

“My momma, who recently passed away – not from COVID-19 – would be proud,” Bell said.