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Calling all sewers

Written by on April 12, 2020

Nursing homes across the state are running low on cloth gowns, according to Dan Clark, director of Iowa Prison Industries.

So the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility is doing something about it.

About 90 inmates there have been cutting the fabric needed for the gowns. By Monday, they are expected to start producing 1,000 gowns a day, Clark said.

“We have the textile production (at the FDCF),” Clark said. “Normally they make blue jeans, but since the virus they have been making gowns and masks. The need for gowns has become much greater and we have been asked to expand.”

But in order to drastically increase the number of gowns produced, the IPI is hoping to get some help from residents in the Fort Dodge area. Particularly residents who can sew.

The prison is teaming up with Iowa Central Community College to distribute the necessary materials and instructions for volunteers.

The inmates will continue to cut the sheets needed to make the gowns. They will just need to be sewn up.

The inmates will package the needed materials for home sewers.

Each bag will have 10 sheets of fabric in them with directions on how to sew the gowns. The volunteer sewer would then take the bag home and return the bag with 12 completed gowns. UnityPoint Health — Trinity Regional Medical Center will then wash and sanitize the gowns in their industrial laundry. Then the gowns will be transported by IPI to Camp Dodge in Des Moines for statewide distribution by the Iowa National Guard.

Volunteers can pick up the materials at the Career Education Building/Recreation Center on the Iowa Central Community College main campus using a drive-thru system.

Drivers should enter the Iowa Central campus off of Kenyon Road as there is ongoing construction on the new student success center.

The packages will be available at Iowa Central from 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Saturday. Drop off will be in the same area.

Jim Kersten, vice president of external relations and government affairs, said this project is a representation of the relationship the college has with the prison.

“We have a strong relationship with Prison Industries and the Iowa Department of Corrections,” Kersten said. “They (Prison Industries) really want communities to help this cause for the state.”

He added, “It’s an urgent need for volunteers to help sew these gowns. Many of them (nursing homes) have been using disposable gowns and just can’t keep enough on hand.”

Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich encourages community members to support the cause.

“This is a great opportunity for our citizens of Fort Dodge and greater region that Iowa Central serves to really get involved and help battle this virus on the front lines by using their God given talents to sew for a greater purpose,” Bemrich said.

Iowa Central President Dr. Dan Kinney complimented the efforts of Warden Bob Johnson for his leadership in partnering with Iowa Central on programs like the Second Chance Pell program.

“Due to his willingness to partner with the college in the past helps make this very important project get off the ground literally almost overnight.” Kinney said. “The college is happy to have some of our staff distribute the fabric in bags which will have material and fabric for up to 12 gowns each.”

For those volunteers who want to help but can’t get to the college, secure and sanitized delivery of bags may be able to be coordinated to deliver the bags to their home within the city limits of Fort Dodge. Details are yet to be worked out.

Volunteers with questions can call United Way of Fort Dodge 515-573-3180 or Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance at 515-955-5500.

Sewing project

What: Volunteers to sew cloth gowns

Why: Nursing homes and other care facilities are running low on gowns.

Where: Pickup and drop off materials at the Career Education Building on Iowa Central Community college campus

When: Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to noon