Valerie Mae Diola is making free face masks for the Ipswich community.
Valerie Mae Diola is making free face masks for the Ipswich community.

Ripley seamstress gifts free masks to public in selfless act

A RIPLEY seamstress is putting to use her impressive skills in a bid to keep Ipswich residents safe during lockdown.

Since learning face masks would become mandatory in public from Friday evening, Valerie Mae Diola has been hellbent on ensuring there was plenty supply to go around.

While a kind gesture itself, she has even since opted to provide those masks free of charge.

Ms Diola hoped to return the generosity she experienced following the temporary closure of her workplace amid COVID-19 last year.

In an added blow, she was at the time considered ineligible for the JobKeeper supplement.

Valerie Mae Diola is giving away free masks to Ipswich residents.
Valerie Mae Diola is giving away free masks to Ipswich residents.

“When my friends found out they helped my family.

“Because of the kindness shown to me during that time, I really wanted to give back to the community now.”

Fortunately, her family has even pitched in to help with the efforts in response to increasing demand.

“My husband and daughter are inserting the elastic and bagging them up for me,” she said.

“I cut the fabric and assemble the mask, then it takes five minutes to sew each one.”

Ms Diola even cuts each thread by hand as her old sewing machine does not have the capability.

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The Ripley seamstress wants to return the generosity she experienced when she could no longer work last year.
The Ripley seamstress wants to return the generosity she experienced when she could no longer work last year.

Neighbours have since started to throw their weight behind the cause by donating materials and spreading the word on social media.

A post highlighting Ms Diola’s effort on the ABC Brisbane Facebook has garnered over 1100 shares and more than 900 comments.

Ms Diola said she was very humbled by the enormous response.

“I didn’t expect that to happen, all I wanted to do is help my community,” Ms Diola said.

“I am getting lots of messages, it’s so overwhelming.”

Ms Diola said she will stop making masks once every piece of material is used up.



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