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Marie's mask making helps charity

Written by Margot Taylor
on September 25, 2020

A clever group of Nellie Melba Retirement Village residents have their response to COVID-19 all stitched-up with their community sewing bee protecting neighbours and raising funds for charity.

Resident Marie Virgona said with the help of “many, many” donations of elastic and fabric from people throughout the village, she and friend and fellow resident Jeanette had made more than 100 face masks.

“My daughter did 15 years of calisthenics, and her children did a bit too, so I can sew,” she said.


When Marie made masks for her daughter and granddaughter word quickly got out and before long the orders started rolling in.

“And I’m thinking ‘I could be making money out of this,” she said.

“So, I jokingly said, ‘Jeanette if you help me, if we get enough money we can go to Japan’ and that’s how it started.”

When even more orders from residents and people further afield arrived, Marie decided the money should be donated to Ryman’s 2020 charity partner the Melanoma Institute Australia.

“It’s nice that you can give money to something else, isn’t it?” Marie said.

“We could sit here and be selfish and think about ourselves all the time and how sad it is, but if you can do something for someone else, that’s great.”

Each mask was made from three layers of fabric following medical recommendations and sold for $10.

So far about $1000 had been raised for the Melanoma Institute, and with the masks now available for purchase from the village’s reception, more was expected to be raised.

The project had filled everyone involved with a sense of purpose and satisfaction.

“Thank you to everyone who has donated fabric or elastic or bought a mask,” Marie said.

“Yes, I’ve done all the sewing, but there are so many people that have helped along the way.”

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