by Dennis Dalman
A little kindness (in this case, a safety mask) can go a long, long way. It’s an exponential kindness, thanks to a Sartell woman who makes the masks by the thousands and gives them away.
Rosie Nodo has cut material and sewn together more than 2,000 masks since the Covid-19 pandemic began to spread in the United States last spring.
A long-time quilting enthusiast, Nodo had bundles and bundles of materials stored in every nook and cranny of her house. There were so many varieties of material for quilting in virtually every kind of color and design that Nodo had to buy very few extras for her ongoing project.
“This making of masks and giving them away is just one small way I can help in trying to get rid of this nasty virus,” Nodo said. “Some days I sew in my sewing room for nine or 10 hours, other days not so much.”
Nodo used to work for Dubow Textiles in East St. Cloud. After the virus began to creep into central Minnesota, Dubow asked Nodo if she’d like to make some masks. She made about 150 of them. A sister who lives in Buffalo and was also making masks, had given Nodo some further inspiration. And it’s been gangbusters ever since.
“I started making masks and then I just went wild with it,” she said.
At the end of her driveway, she placed a shepherd hook on which she hangs plastic bags filled with masks, free for the taking. Appreciative people sometimes leave money or thank-you notes.
One of them moved Nodo to tears. The note was from two little boys who scrawled on the note, “Thank you for the masks!” Then each of them scribbled and doodled on the note their names and self-portraits.
“I know some people can’t afford masks or just don’t know where to get them,” Nodo said. “So I’m glad I can help them out.”
As she continued her project week after week, Nodo became aware of the need for donating masks here, there and everywhere. She gave bunches of them to one of the Coborn’s grocery stores, to the House of Pizza, to a mental-health facility in Waite Park.
She also sent many in the mail – throughout Minnesota and as far away as Florida, Arizona and California where she has friends, relatives or acquaintances.
While making masks, the inner artist in Nodo is in full bloom, the way it is when she makes quilts. Some of her masks are made from wildly colorful fabrics; others are plain and more subdued. She also did lots of theme masks (Minnesota Twins, Vikings, The Wild) that were very popular. She just created a bunch of Halloween-themed masks (pumpkins, ghosts, etc.), and she is now fashioning masks with Thanksgiving and Christmas themes.
For her masks, Nodo uses three layers of material – flannel on the inside, cotton layers on the outside. She makes two pleats on each mask and includes an elastic string on the edge of the mask so that it can be tightened snugly against the chin and face by pulling on a bead attached to the string. She also sews a paper-clip device inside so the mask can fit securely on the bridge of the nose. She also makes special masks to fit smaller children’s faces.
Nodo admits, modestly, that she’s pretty good at sewing. Well, she ought to be, considering she took up sewing almost 50 years ago when she was pregnant with her first child. Her quilting hobby she began about 20 years ago.
Nodo and her husband, Ervin, a semi-retired contractor, have two daughters: Leah Their in Brooklyn Park and Amy Kahrs, who lives in California. The Nodos have one granddaughter, Madison, 13, who is Leah’s daughter. All are big fans of “Nodo Masks.”
Anyone who would like a Nodo mask can just drive up to the home’s driveway and take one from the shepherd hook. The Nodo residence is located at 609 2-1/2 St. S. in Sartell.