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Mask up Longmont mission come to an end

The Hidden Treasure 2 made and donated over 52,000 masks

After a year and a half since The Hidden Treasure 2 began its “Mask Up Longmont Mission,” the craft and consignment store is refocusing on the business.

Owners of The Hidden Treasure 2, mother and daughter Sandra Noonan and Aimee Esch, began donating hand-sewn masks for nursing homes in March 2020 early into the pandemic. After accomplishing their mission of providing masks when they were scarce — they donated approximately 52,000 masks — Noonan and Esch concluded the effort this month. 

“And we just wanted to help the community because nobody could get the masks a year and a half ago, they were nowhere. So we wanted to help the best that we could,” Noonan said.

Noonan is a former nurse, and she started on her mask-making mission after a friend called asking for masks at the nursing home she worked at.

Seeing a scarcity for face coverings, The Hidden Treasure 2 began sewing and donating masks to schools, daycares and essential businesses including grocery stores. The Mask Up Longmont Mission kept The Hidden Treasure 2 active during enforced closures.

“That's what kept us going. Otherwise, we probably would have had to shut down because we were closed for six weeks,” Noonan said.

But Noonan and Esch weren’t alone in the mission. To their surprise, the Mask Up Longmont Mission became a community effort. 

“In a time when we had to be separate, people came together in a way that would help each other,” Esch said.

Customers donated fabric after The Hidden Treasure 2’s cotton stash was depleted. About 100 volunteers helped with sewing, handing out donation orders and answering calls. Sewing volunteers made masks in their homes and brought them to the store to donate since space was limited inside with social distancing requirements.

“It's just amazing how the community pulled together. People just came out of the woodwork and wanted to help anywhere from just sitting here taking phone calls for masks, to distributing them, to donating,” Noonan said. “So it was just a community effort. You know, we may have started it, but it was definitely the community pulling together to help others.”

Noonan said the phone would constantly ring with donation requests and people would line up outside of the building. She recalls sewing at the end of a large table set up inside the store and masks being given away seconds after she finished making them.

Demand started trickling after October 2020, Noonan said, citing it as a reason for concluding the Mask Up Longmont Mission. Juggling mask donations with running a business became easier.

Esch said with masks being readily available now, the Hidden Treasure 2 had several bins of unclaimed free masks. They ended up donating the remaining 1,000 to 2,000 masks to the OUR Center in Longmont, so those needing a free mask can still get them.

They decided to close the mask mission prior to the reinstated indoor mask policy for Boulder County on Sept. 3, which requires all persons 2-years-old or older to wear a face covering indoors. Though masks are mandated again, Esch said it’s easier to find face coverings than when they started their mission in March last year.

The Hidden Treasure 2 struggled to meet their normal level of business early into the pandemic. They decided it was time to take care of the store. They are currently prepping for the holidays, the busiest time of year for The Hidden Treasure 2, by organizing consignment and donated craft supplies. The connected marketplace with goods from different vendors gets busy around the holidays, Noonan said.

They are looking forward to finding more normalcy and getting back to business as usual, Noonan said. Though the Mask Up Longmont Mission has ended, Noonan said they won’t hesitate to make masks for groups in need, such as nursing homes.

“I think it's a relief, because we know that people can get them (masks),” Noonan said. We know that our community is taken care of, but as we said, if it needed to be, we would do it again.”

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