SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --
As the Department of Defense continues to adapt and safeguard troops, their families, and the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic, service members are accomplishing the mission in a rapidly changing environment. Recently, the DoD issued a policy requiring the wear of cloth face coverings in public settings and work centers where physical distancing is difficult to maintain.
However, it can be difficult for service members to find the materials required to make masks in a short time span and they may not have any experience in crafting or sewing.
Sarah Schrader, spouse to U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jonathon Schrader, 701st Munitions Squadron senior load monitor, has taken this opportunity to help her local community by making cloth face masks for local hospitals and her husband’s squadron at Kleine-Brogel Air Base, Belgium.
“My mom is a seamstress and taught me how to sew when I was around four years old,” said Sarah. “I have been sewing ever since, and it has been over 30 years now.”
Sarah said she noticed her local community needed more face masks as the COVID-19 pandemic progressed.
“I saw a need and I have the ability to help,” said Sarah. “I have had a surplus of fabric for years, I have all the supplies needed to do this, and I wanted to help out. I have all the time in the world to do this right now and I need to help out.”
Sarah said she made over 130 masks so far, supplying her husband’s squadron and donating others to a local hospital near their home in Belgium.
“Everyone who comes to base now is required to wear a face mask,” said Sarah. “My focus right now is getting masks made quickly to be given to the essential workers, and then eventually working on donating masks to the entire installation.”
Despite the obstacles that come from being stationed at a geographically separated unit, the remoteness has not stopped Sarah from getting supplies.
“Although it can be challenging to get American supplies at times, I have not run into many challenges to find materials,” said Sarah.
Jonathon said he could not be more proud of Sarah for all of her efforts during the pandemic.
“I think it is really awesome that she found this opportunity and reached out on her own,” said Jonathon. “I had no part in her efforts to help my squadron at all. She saw a need, saw the ability to fix it and just started working.”
Sarah said her goal is to continue making masks for those who are in need.
“I am going to continue to order materials as I need them,” said Sarah. “It’s like I’ve been preparing for this. I’ve been very blessed, so I feel like it’s my way of giving back.”