Paying it forward: employee makes masks for colleagues

There is a special inspiration behind Glenna Roripaugh’s latest sewing project (200 masks and counting).

In mid-March when concerns about COVID-19 reached extraordinary levels, Excalibur’s HR Coordinator Glenna Roripaugh began sewing masks for her son, daughter and grandchildren.

“I wanted to make sure my family was protected,” says Glenna. “So, I originally bought material and started making masks. I sewed one for an employee’s child who has health issues. Others at work began asking, ‘Could you make one for my daughter or son?’ and it took off from there.”

When she told Excalibur Seasoning President & CEO Tom Hornstein about her after-hours effort, he insisted that the company pay for her materials. Other employees also began stepping forward.

“One worker’s mom passed away a year ago, so she asked if I could use a big box of material and thread. Someone else brought in four yards of material for masks to protect her family, and there was fabric left over. One young woman walked into my office with five spools of thread, which is something that right now is in short supply.

“It’s incredible how people want to do their part. We have an amazing team here.”

Glenna was ten years old when her mother taught her how to sew and it’s been a passion ever since. An experience she had while battling breast cancer inspired her to use her talent and skill to contribute.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015,” Glenna recalls. “My mother and I went to a store that sold hats for patients. We were both taken aback by the prices that people were charging. So, we bought one, took it home, tore it apart to establish our own pattern, then sewed and donated those hats to women. It’s really the same premise here. There was a need and I wanted to do what I could to help.”

The masks have become a family project for Glenna. Along the assembly line is her mom, her husband, and her son who turns the masks right side out upon completion. She has no final goal in mind for mask production.

“I want to make whatever is needed. I lost count after two-hundred masks. I put each one in a clean sandwich bag and there are 145 bags in a box. I completely wiped out the first box and am well into the second package. That’s how I keep track of how many I’ve sewn.”

Glenna, who has been with Excalibur Seasoning since 2011, says there’s always been an atmosphere of care and concern at the company. It’s why she wouldn’t think of working anywhere else.

“It’s rewarding to see people paying it forward and taking care of one another. It’s contagious. You see that now more than ever and that’s a good thing.”

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