Walnut Grove’s Norma Floyd has already raised about $300 for the Langley Hospice Society, by making and selling face masks. She lowers the items down in a basket, and buyers can pick the one/s they want, pay $10 each, and never have to have literal contact with the 92-year-old woman. (Shannon Todd Booth/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Pulley system used in homemade mask making effort for charity

A 92-year-old Langley woman is selling handcrafted face covers, giving all the money to hospice

Norma Floyd takes giving to a whole new level amid the COVID pandemic. She’s taking it to a second level, in fact.

From the balcony of her two-storey home, the long-time seamstress and quilter is selling masks she’s made from scraps.

About 10 days ago, she posted a sign on the clubhouse of her Walnut Grove townhouse complex, announcing she was making and selling face masks for a minimum $10 donation.

She’s had a lot more interest than she ever expected.

In quick order, people began stopping by to purchase one, two, or even half a dozen at a time.

They typically ring her ground-floor doorbell, she comes out on the balcony and lowers down a basket full of the masks to the ground below. Buyers select the colours and styles they want, put the donation in the basket, and head on “their merry way,” said Floyd, who celebrated her 92nd birthday Sunday.

While the basket and pulley system she set up to facilitate these sales seems to have intrigued many who stop by. She uses a rope and a hand-woven basket made by her daughter some 30 years ago simply came out of necessity.

Social distancing was a partial motivated for the set up. But, she lives on the second floor, and dreaded the idea of running up and down the stairs every time a customer came by. “That doesn’t sound like fun to me.”

So now, several times a day, she hears the bell and heads out on her deck to sell.

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Not a money making venture

This is not a job, Floyd is quick to point out. She’s not doing this to line her pickets. In fact, it’s just a way to kill time and help out others, she explained.

Floyd is actually donated every cent back to a charity dear to her heart. She’s already managed to raise more than $300 for the Langley Hospice Society, and expects there will be much more in the coffers before this is all over.

Floyd has volunteered with the hospice’s Second Story Treasures thrift store for close to 20 years – donating more than 6,200 hours to date… and counting.

“I’m in seventh heaven there,” she said of her volunteer “gig” working in the fabric and crafts area of the store. “But all of the sudden, I’m not going down there. So, what am I going to do?”

She is usually pretty busy between volunteering at the store three days a week, quilting (a hobby she took up some 60 years ago), or driving to visit family who live in Washington State.

But in adhering to COVID directives, the thrift store is closed indefinitely, travelling across the border is prohibited, and – given her age – Floyd thinks it wise she simply hunker down and remain home and safe.

Admittedly, she found she was going a little stir crazy. There’s only so much reading and gardening she can do on her deck, Floyd said.

So, she decided to put her mounts of scrap material and sewing skills to good use.

Initially, she made 30 cosmetic bags to donate to Ishtar Transition House. Then, she asked hospice if they could use some toiletry bags, and she made a few dozen of those. Then, she heard about the mandate in some U.S. cities for anyone outdoors to be wearing a mask.

She set about making some 20 masks (complete with filters) for friends and family.

That’s when the idea struck her to make more, but to do it as a fundraiser for hospice.

The demand for the masks has proven a little overwhelming, the senior said, filing orders as quickly as she can.

“It’s been fun, but I don’t want to burn out… I don’t want to make this a job,” she said, noting she’s sold about 40 masks in the past 10 days, and demand seems to be increasing.

She has orders for several more, and will just keep plugging away as she can. Floyd said she’ll keep up the mask making efforts as long as she has fabric.

Floyd’s kindness and ingenuity have impressed many, including Carissa Halley, executive director of Langley Hospice Society.

“The Langley Hospice Society relies on the incredible support we receive from our amazing volunteers – they truly touch everything that we do. We are grateful for volunteers, like Norma, who continually to find innovative ways to contribute, even in times like these,” Halley said.

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Gala-to-Go gets going Saturday night

Prior to the pandemic hitting, hospice planned to host its fourth annual Plates & Glasses event this Saturday, April 18, at the Fort Langley Community Hall.

Like all big events, this one was cancelled due to the potential spread of COVID-19, but that didn’t stop hospice from keeping the fundraiser alive – just giving it a new twist.

Instead of coming together in one big group, the participants are still having the meals – but they’re doing it in the comfort and safety of their own home, explained Shannon Todd Booth, the organization’s fundraising director. And instead of calling it Plates & Glasses, they’re calling it #Gala-to-Go.

RELATED: Langley Hospice Society decides to give their gala to go

“Our volunteer drivers will be delivering more than 85 five-course meals on Saturday, April 18, between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m.,” Todd Booth explained, noting the meals will arrive in secure containers, bagged individually for each address, and will include the menu and some short heating/serving instructions, for optimum enjoyment of this fabulous feast, along with a few extra goodies.

She elaborated that volunteers are being provided with masks and gloves, and instructions for a no-contact delivery.

“This means they will arrive and ring the doorbell or knock, and place the items near the door and step back to allow you to bring the items inside,” she said.

Last year’s Plates & Glasses event raised $32,000 for Langley hospice, which relies on the fundraising and financial support from the community to offer its palliative and bereavement support programs and services.

While they’ve had to forego the silent auction and other fundraising activities that traditionally accompany the in-person events, Todd Booth said she’s still hopeful this new and unique Gala-to-Go fundraiser can raise about $14,000 for the organization.

For more information about Langley Hospice Society, visit online.

• Stay tuned to the Langley Advance Times for results of the fundraiser

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