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Indera Mills Company donates more than 33,500 masks

By Sandi Scannelli
For the Clemmons Courier

The giving season has started early for many local schools and nonprofit organizations, thanks to the Indera Mills Company in Yadkinville. John Willingham, president of Indera Mills Company, decided that with the surge in the COVID-19 virus and an ample inventory of masks, the company could help and be part of the local solution in changing the virus spread. He contacted the Clemmons Community Foundation to help identify nonprofit organizations that may have a need for masks made by his company’s team. Within 48 hours, 24 organizations were on the list of joyful recipients. On Dec. 1, Julie Brown, Indera Mills’ team member, and John Willingham helped load vans and cars with cases containing 33,500 masks for distribution to 24 organizations in Forsyth and Yadkin counties.

Brown was a key part of the donation project and instrumental in helping Indera Mills gear up for Yadkinville’s mask production in March. Willingham gratefully credited her skillful experience in operating a sewing machine for the startup of the mask production and leading the company’s pivot when the pandemic began. Indera Mills Company, celebrating its 106th year of operation, has produced thermal underwear and base garments for the last 15 years. Founded in Winston-Salem in 1914 by Colonel Fries — Willingham’s great-grandfather, the company moved to Yadkinville in 1998 and continues to lead the industry in its product line. Weathering many economic storms over the years, mask production was a temporary pivot in response to the pandemic.   With a vaccine in view and potentially a reduced need for masks six months from now, the company is returning full operations to its primary product lines. True to its long history of philanthropy, Willingham decided to donate much of its remaining mask inventory.       

The stories of how the nonprofit organizations plan to use the donated masks illustrate the timeliness of the gift.

  • Cancer Services will provide masks to those under care during treatment and their families.
  • Age-Friendly Forsyth plans to distribute masks to seniors.
  • In partnership with the Interfaith Alliance of Clemmons and Lewisville, teachers will have an extra mask and a mask for returning students who need a fresh mask during the day.
  • Libraries with precious limited resources to purchase disposable masks for their unmasked patrons will now have a generous supply.
  • Boonville Business & Downtown Development will now be able to offer free masks at their Dewey’s holiday fundraiser for their community park.
  • Crisis Control Ministries, Clemmons Food Pantry, and Yadkin Christian Ministries will distribute masks to families receiving food and other relief.
  • Smart Start will provide masks to new mothers and childcare centers.
  • The YMCA will have masks for their staff and students and for its upcoming holiday toy store in Yadkinville.
  • The Salvation Army will provide masks to volunteers and families receiving emergency relief throughout Forsyth and Yadkin counties.   
  • Clemmons Rotary will distribute masks to families benefiting from their Hand-In-Hand meal and gift distribution project on Dec. 2.
  • Trellis Supportive Care will provide masks to caregivers and family members visiting those in hospice care.
  • Other benefiting nonprofits include Imprints Cares, Yadkin Center of Surry Community College, the Children’s Center of Northwest N.C., Hispanic League, Crossnore School and Children’s Home, and Magnify Ministries.

The impact of this remarkable gift will touch thousands of individuals throughout Forsyth and Yadkin counties. And gratitude abounds for Indera Mills Company and its team as they continue a spirit of generosity and community care during times of need.      

Sandi Scannelli is president and CEO of the Clemmons Community Foundation.