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Stitching communities together: LRAFB spouses’ craft masks

Caitlyn Bowman, spouse of U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Bowman, operates a sewing machine to complete a mask in Jacksonville.

Caitlyn Bowman, spouse of U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Bowman, operates a sewing machine to complete a mask in Jacksonville, Arkansas, April 14, 2020. As the Department of Defense released guidance requiring military members, civilian employees, contractors and family members to wear masks, the need of cloth face coverings increased. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Irvin)

Caitlyn Bowman, spouse of U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Bowman, crafts masks for those in need at and around Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas.

Caitlyn Bowman, spouse of U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Bowman, crafts masks for those in need at and around Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, April 14, 2020. As the Department of Defense released guidance requiring military members, civilian employees, contractors and family members to wear masks, the need of cloth face coverings increased. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Irvin)

Amanda Peterson, spouse of U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Parker Peterson, crafts masks to help those in need at and around Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas.

Amanda Peterson, spouse of U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Parker Peterson, crafts masks to help those in need at and around Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, April 14, 2020. Peterson has made over 250 masks and is receiving requests daily. (Courtesy Photo)

Caitlyn Bowman, spouse of U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Bowman, crafts masks to help those in need at and around Little Rock Air Force Base.

Caitlyn Bowman, spouse of U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Bowman, crafts masks to help those in need at and around Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, April 14, 2020. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Irvin)

Caitlyn Bowman, spouse of U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Bowman, measures out cloth to make into a protective face covering in Jacksonville, Arkansas.

Caitlyn Bowman, spouse of U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Bowman, measures out cloth to make into a protective face covering in Jacksonville, Arkansas, April 14, 2020. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Irvin)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

While many people around the world find themselves with more free time due to COVID-19, there are still ample ways to stay connected, come together as a community, and utilize that time to aid one another.

Team Little Rock military spouses Amanda Peterson and Caitlyn Bowman are just two of the people who have been using their extra time at home to make cloth masks to help those in need.

“Having two children who are immunocompromised, I have always had a watchful eye for what’s going around on the news,” Peterson said. “When I saw this information, I knew there would be an influx of people needing masks.”

Peterson noted that while in this day-and-age when you can just order online and get it in two days, some things are not as easily acquired during this pandemic.

“There is also a sense of comfort in having something custom made for you,” Peterson said.

As the Department of Defense has released further guidance requiring military members, civilian employees, contractors and family members to wear cloth masks, the need of cloth face coverings was at an all-time high.

"I put out a message on the spouses page offering to make masks,” Peterson said. “Immediately people started messaging me to buy masks. However, it wasn't something I was looking to profit from."

While not looking to profit, donations are welcomed to ensure the supply continues to meet the ever increasing demand.

Bowman emphasized that the main goal is to keep people safe and healthy while providing an extra layer of comfort.

"It was amazing to see how many people were offering and willing to help me in whatever way they could," Peterson said. 

‘Pay the kindness forward’ is the only expectation Peterson has when giving out the masks.

After the influx of requests, Peterson called in for reinforcements from her husband and two children to help expedite the process.

“It instilled a sense of pride in them – how they were able to help those in need and see the difference each mask makes.”

Since the DoD policy requiring cloth mask wear went into effect, Peterson and Bowman have made over 300 cloth masks for the community for free.

“This is just a small way I can help the community,” Bowman said. “There aren't many chances to help others during this crisis, so this is a great opportunity.”

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