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Mount Angel woman, Tina Hartman, has sewn and donated about 5,000 masks to protect from COVID-19

COURTESY PHOTO: TINA HARTMAN - Tina Hartman has sewn more than 5,000 masks and has donated most of those.It all started when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Tina Hartman's family needed masks to protect themselves. Now, Hartman has sewn more than 5,000 masks and has donated almost all of them.

Hartman, of Mount Angel, is one of many sewers who have stepped up to fill the widespread need for masks. But Hartman isn't exactly a sewer, or at least she wasn't.

"My mom, you now when I was a kid, I'm sure pulled out the sewing machine, and I probably played with it when I was a kid, but I have no background," Hartman said. "Zero."

But with her own weak immune system and her brother fighting cancer, the need pushed her to make something happen.

Hartman's brother had been suffering from lung cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. Just when they thought he would be OK, the family found out the cancer had spread to his brain.

"So, I started making masks for our family, and then the community needed some, so I started making them for the community," Hartman said. "And then it just kind of escalated to where it is now. I've sewn over 5,000 masks and donated 95% of them.

"My hands hurt, that's for sure," she said.

Hartman, originally from Hubbard, started first with Canby. She donated to the fire department, Providence urgent care, all the nursing homes and the Canby Center. Once those needs were filled, she moved on to Molalla.

COURTESY PHOTO: TINA HARTMAN - Pictured is a tiny portion of the masks Tina Hartman and family have sewn.

Now, she's donated to the organizations above, individuals, Molalla Fire, multiple nursing homes as far as Albany, Providence Benedictine Nursing Center in Mount Angel, Silverton Hospital, Legacy Meridian Park Hospital, Salem Hospital, the oncology department where her brother receives treatment, all the staff at Hi-School Pharmacy in Silverton where she often gets her supplies and more.

"There's so many places," Hartman said. "I can't even imagine to try to remember. I'll open up my inbox, and I'll have 100 requests of people wanting masks."

She said the word has spread mostly via social media groups.

And how does she keep up? It's a family effort, she said.

COURTESY PHOTO: TINA HARTMAN - Ty Hartman takes his turn at sewing.COURTESY PHOTO: TINA HARTMAN - Tina Hartman's son, Trenton Hartman, has cut every piece of elastic for the more than 5,000 masks.Hartman is married and has two adult daughters and two young sons. She also has two sons in-law and five grandchildren. She's taught most of them to sew, and the others pitch in one way or another.

Until he cut off a portion of his finger, her husband, Ty Hartman, had cut all the fabric. Her youngest son, Trenton Hartman, has cut every piece of elastic for the more than 5,000 masks. Hartman's sons in-law make all the pleats on the masks. Her daughters, Corina Curths and Brittany Curths, plus Brandi Bowling, help as well.

Once, when she was nearly 1,000 masks behind, she taught her sister in-law, Shannon Curths, to sew over FaceTime.

"That was interesting," Hartman said. "She actually does really good now. I didn't think I'd be able to do it because you kind of need to be hands-on when you're teaching something like that, but she got it."

Hartman's friend Livvia Valenciano also is working hard to provide masks.

COURTESY PHOTO: TINA HARTMAN - One of Tina Hartman's daughters, Corina Curths, works the sewing machine.COURTESY PHOTO: TINA HARTMAN - One of Tina Hartman's sons in-law, Nathan Politowicz, works on pleating. He does so even on nights he doesn't want to.Hartman and friends have donated all the masks they've made except for a small amount that Hartman sold at the beginning to help her replenish her supplies.

Times have been hard for Hartman's family. She and her husband own Four T's Fabrication, but with the pandemic, business has stopped, bringing their income to zero. Fortunately, once people began to realize Hartman was donating more masks than she was selling, they began to gift her with supplies. One business, Blacktop Northwest, gave her a cash donation that allowed her to make several hundred masks.

Hartman said she is thankful for all of the people who have donated fabric, elastic and thread.

"Without those donations, I would not have been able to continue my journey," she said.

Anyone wishing to donate supplies can find Tina Hartman on Facebook.

Kristen Wohlers
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