FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (April 30, 2020) — The installation’s mask-making contest wrapped up this week with Fort Leonard Wood and Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Commanding General Maj. Gen. Donna Martin announcing the Chemical Team as the winner Wednesday during her weekly virtual town hall.
The U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School, 3rd Chemical Brigade and 58th Transportation Battalion fashioned and donated 316 masks to the competition, which took place over the past two weeks.
Using their own materials, Soldiers, civilians and family members from the five competing teams volunteered their own time to make several hundred masks, said Katy Carter, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, Business and Recreation chief.
“We are so amazed at the response,” she said. “More than 600 masks in total were made to support our community. The competition was neck and neck as bags of masks were being dropped off, but (the Chemical Team) took the lead with 150 masks dropped off by a single leader.”
FMWR officials confirmed masks were made following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines. The masks were distributed to community members Tuesday at the Main Post Exchange, Commissary and General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital.
“You’ve absolutely earned the right to brag,” Martin said of the Chemical Team. “But I also want to thank the Headquarters team, the Engineers and the Military Police teams for their amazing contributions.”
Carter said she was impressed at the level of detail mask makers put into their work.
“For me it wasn’t any one design in particular but seeing how thoughtful patrons were to make special sizes for children and teens,” she said. “The fit of the mask is so important, and many took that into consideration. Some even sewed wire into the mask which will allow for a tighter fit around the nose.”
Although the contest ended April 24, many who donated masks expressed a sincere desire to continue providing the protective equipment for the community.
“When our FMWR team came together to collect and count the masks, we were so touched by every participant that arrived to turn in their finished masks,” Carter said. “Most asked if they could continue to drop off more masks in the coming days and weeks – fully understanding the competition was over today, yet the drive to support their community continues.
Carter said she hopes this goodwill competition will encourage others to pitch in for their communities, no matter how far from Fort Leonard Wood those may be.
“The most important part of this competition is someone walking away with a mask to help protect themselves,” she said. “We hope someone hears of our story and is inspired to do something for the community they are part of.”
Indeed, even before the contest’s end, volunteers from three states away were sewing masks for Soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood.
Karen Borgelt is one of several women in an informal group out of Findlay, Ohio, called, Sewing for Others. She said what started as a homegrown initiative to help children in other countries became a mission to supply Soldiers and healthcare professionals with protection.
“We started the group to make little dresses that are sent to different countries around the world,” she said.
But that all changed little more than one month ago.
“We weren’t able to get together anymore because of the virus,” Borgelt said.
Despite not being in physical proximity with each other, the group adapted their work to fit the needs of their community and the country.
Her local hospital needed masks, she said. Shortly thereafter, she heard from her son-in-law, Capt. David Hoy, 509th Clearance Company at Fort Leonard Wood.
Borgelt said her group made more than 800 masks in total – 172 for Fort Leonard Wood and 174 for the National Guard.
“Individually, we’ve given more away,” she said. “(We) really feel like this is our calling right now, what we’re supposed to be doing.”
Carter thanked the group and expressed appreciation to all those supporting the military.
“It is wonderful to see all the good coming out of a trying time for all,” she said.
She spoke directly to interested helpers in other towns.
“You may not have access to fabric or comfortable sewing, but there are lots of ways we can support each other,” she said. “Perhaps send letters to a veterans home, or call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. We may not physically be able to be together but there are many ways we can connect as a community.”
FMWR will continue to hold virtual social engagements like this contest for the benefit of the community, officials said.
To get involved in possible future events, contact FMWR at 573.596.0145 or follow their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/mwr.ftwood.
About Fort Leonard Wood
Fort Leonard Wood is a thriving and prosperous installation that has evolved from a small basic training post more than 75 years ago to a premier Army Center of Excellence that trains more than 80,000 military and civilians each year.
Fort Leonard Wood is home to the U.S Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and three U.S. Army schools: the U.S. Army Engineer School; U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School; and the U.S. Army Military Police School. In addition to training engineer, CBRN and military police specialties for the Army, Fort Leonard Wood also provides gender-integrated in-processing and Basic Combat Training for new Soldiers.
Fort Leonard Wood also hosts and trains with the largest Marine Corps Detachment and Air Force Squadron on any Army installation as well as a large Navy construction detachment.
More information about Fort Leonard Wood is at: https://home.army.mil/wood/index.php/about/mission