CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Many people are feeling compelled to do something good during these dark times. That includes an east Valley woman who is making sure those on the frontlines have masks.
Melissa Shumway is no stranger to helping others. She was a 911 operator for nearly 20 years. Her husband is a former police officer, so it's no different in this time of crisis that Melissa has found a way to make help protect those on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It all began when a close friend who works in the trauma unit at phoenix children's hospital, asked if she could make her a mask. Melissa couldn't believe hospitals were running short on face masks. So she made her one.
But it didn't stop there.
Melissa heard stories of face masks shortages not just from friends, but also her sisters. One is a nurse in California, the other is a respiratory therapist in Oregon. Both work in hospitals.
So with fabric remnants, Melissa began making more masks for friends and friends of friends. Now, she's made more than 500 masks, donating all of them.
Her masks have made their way all over Arizona and several other states.
"It just feels overwhelming," she described. "I didn't know this was going to happen at all, the need was going to be this big. And it just ballooned. Now hospitals are making everyone where it and there's just not enough. So it feels right and it feels really good to do this," said Shumway.
The biggest challenge for Melissa has nothing to do with making the masks, but the story each mask brings.
"There's a story attached to each one. Every message I get has a story," she explained filled with emotions. "My parents are 90 and they have to fly back home to Ohio or my sister works in healthcare and they have nothing. There's a story behind each request and that's what brings it home for me."
Melissa says its a team effort. At one point, she was running low on materials and couldn't find elastic. She posted on Facebook about her search for elastic and friends began dropping off supplies at her door.
Melissa plans to keep making masks, until supplies are replenished again and the need is gone. She says we all need to be thankful for all those working the frontlines in the pandemic.
"They're keeping us going right now. I feel terrible for them that they have to go through this, but i feel like the United States is coming together right now and it's a beautiful thing," Shumway said.