ANDOVER, Kan. (KSNW) – The Andover Fire-Rescue is one of many organizations excited to receive an unexpected surprise in the form of handmade reusable face masks from a local seamstress.

Retired librarian Cheri Nienke is an avid quilter who shifted her focus to mask making in March when she saw a need for those with extra materials.

While many were asking how they could help, Nienke, who has been sewing since she was 8-years-old, said she was happy to use her skills and surplus of fabric to help her neighbors and community.

Neinke has made over 1,700 masks but as never sold one. Instead, she donates them to anyone that needs or requests them in her community and even some out of state. 

Cheri says she spends close to eight hours a day in her craft room, taking her large collection of fabrics from years of quilting projects, loading up an audiobook and making lightweight reusable face masks in a multitude of designs and colors

Andover Fire Chief Chad Russell says he’s thankful that Cheri and others in the community have been keeping them in their thoughts. 

She hasn’t worked entirely alone with many family members, including her grandchildren, helping out. Cheri says it creates space to spend time with her loved ones and also pass down some family traditions.

Cheri will need those extra hands for her next endeavor. Nienke plans to make 400 – 600 for staff and students at one of her grandchildren’s schools, Hyde Elementary.

The retired librarian says she doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon so if you’d like some of her masks, reach out to her at cherijin@cox.net.