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Saugatuck church offers free COVID-19 safety, pinned to a clothesline

Members of the First Congregational Church of Saugatuck are sewing COVID-19 masks, pinning them to a clothesline, for passersby to stop and take for free.

SAUGATUCK, Mich. — Face mask shortages have been a global problem during the COVID-19 pandemic. Factories are scrambling to produce at least "20 times" more masks a day to keep up with the high demand.

A West Michigan church is offering free masks. 

All passersby have to do is pick the one they like that's pinned to the clothesline draping the church's staircase, and take it.

"Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, we've had to pivot," said Rev. Sarah Terlouw, pastor of the First Congregational Church of Saugatuck. "Like everybody during these trying times, we have to find different ways to do things."

Two weeks ago, a member of the church's congregation decided to start sewing COVID-19 masks.

"She started with calling around the congregation to make sure everyone in the church had a mask that needed one," said Terlouw. "After that, she and three other church members started cranking them out for everybody else who needed one."

They decided to tie a clothesline between the staircase railings at the church's main entrance. They put each mask in a plastic bag, with a short note, then clothespinned them to the line for people to take.

"We put the first line of masks out two weeks ago," said Terlouw. "The first line was empty at the end of the first day."

Since then, church members have had to replenish the line with more masks four or five times.

"There is a need, for sure," Terlouw said. "People can stop and take as many as they need."

Terlouw said her church members will continue making the masks and putting new ones on the clothesline as long as there is a demand for them.

"At some point, hopefully, everyone will have exactly what they need," said Terlouw. "After that, we'll pivot and start doing something else.

"We are blessed to be a blessing to others."

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