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70-year-old woman sews 500 masks for Las Vegans

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals, families and businesses in Las Vegas are stepping up to offer relief to people in the community who are in need of food, services and support. Here are stories about people who are leading with kindness and proving the community is #VegasStrong.

70-year-old sews 500 masks

For her 70th birthday last week, Mary Ann Racheau sewed a fabric face mask in a “happy birthday” print. It was one of about 500 masks she has made in the past few weeks.

Racheau learned to sew as a little girl and has worked as a seamstress and costumier for several Las Vegas shows. She now offers private lessons and teaches at UNLV.

When she first learned about the nationwide personal protective equipment shortage, she said she felt called to help.

“I made and donated about 200 masks for nurses and because people knew I could sew and asked me to make them for them,” said Racheau. “People insisted on paying me. You go online and can find masks for $16 or $20. It’s not fair to put a high price on a necessary commodity.”

As requests increased for masks, Racheau said, fabric became harder to find and the elastic more expensive. Now she sells masks for $5 or $8 if someone wants a special fabric through her website at sewlasvegas.com and email wracheau@aol.com.

Racheau said the impulse to help others stems from an injury she suffered years ago when she woke up one morning to find a slipped disk left her body paralyzed.

Doctors told her she would never walk again. Through rehabilitation, she has regained most of the control of her body.

“I tell my students that you never know the last time you’ll be able to lift your arms to hug someone. You don’t know how precious people are. It is so important to be grateful,” said Racheau. “Then this crazy pandemic hits and it’s like we’re all paralyzed. But you need to keep going and work out of it. There is always a gift that will show itself. It’s this, it’s people coming together to love and support each other.”

Jewel donates meals

In partnership with Beyond Meat as part of the brand’s Feed A Million+ pledge, Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Jewel sent donated Beyond Meat meals from Del Taco in Las Vegas to her Never Broken Program youth program in the Inspiring Children Foundation, as well as Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth on Friday.

As someone who was homeless as a teenager, providing those in need with access to good nourishing meals is a cause close to Jewel’s heart.

Through Beyond Meat’s Feed A Million+ pledge, the company is aiming to donate over 1 million Beyond Meat meals to hospitals, front-line workers, food banks and communities in need over the course of 30 days. More information can be found at beyondmeat.com.

“I’m inspired to help my foundation youth and homeless youth in Las Vegas with Beyond Meat and Del Taco donating meals to those who need it most. I remember when I was homeless and a free meal meant I wouldn’t go hungry that night,” Jewel said.

Pampas feeds area firefighters

This week, Pampas Las Vegas at Miracle Mile Shops donated meals to first responders throughout Las Vegas, including Fire Station 32, Fire Station 18, Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, Metropolitan Police Central Command and Harmon Hospital as a thank you for their service to our community.

Contact Janna Karel at jkarel@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jannainprogress on Twitter. Contact Madelon Hynes at mrhynes@reviewjournal.com.

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