Lorraine Parish kick-starts pet food pantry

She’s trading masks to help man’s best friend.

Lorraine Parish is making masks out of left over cloth scraps and trading them for pet food that she will donate to pet-owners in need. Courtesy Lorraine Parish

With so many animal lovers on-Island, Vineyard Haven resident Lorraine Parish said she wants to provide security and peace of mind to pet owners by collecting pet food in exchange for homemade face masks.

Parish said pet owners can call her and request a donation of pet food if they are in a tough situation. She will then leave the food out on a table at her shop for people to pick up. 

“There are going to be people on the Vineyard who aren’t going to have enough money to feed their animals,” Parish said. 

Parish said she started a uniform line a few years back that didn’t quite take off, so now she has an almost endless supply of fabric scraps that she wants to put to good use.

“It just kind of popped into my head, I should make masks,” Parish said.

Each mask takes Parish about 15 minutes to make, so she said she can churn them out at a good pace. 

In a recent op-ed in the Boston Globe, the benefit of wearing masks, even if they aren’t certified N95 masks, was made apparent. Shan Soe-Lin, co-author of the article, is managing director of the Boston-based Pharos Global Health Advisors, and a lecturer in global health at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale University. The other co-author, Robert Hecht, is the president of Pharos Global Health Advisors, and a clinical professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health.

Because masks stop you from touching your face and possibly exposing yourself to infection, they are effective in protecting human health, they wrote.

“The coronavirus, like all respiratory viruses, needs to enter mucous membranes in the nose, throat, and eyes to cause infection. If you can successfully block access to these critical entry points, you will avoid infection by the coronavirus, flu, and any of several hundred other respiratory viruses,” the article states.

According to the Globe piece, wearing masks is also a good way to encourage others to take the current situation seriously, and possibly make them think about ways they can prevent the spread of the virus. 

“Wearing masks is a powerful signal to others that these are not normal times, and that we all need to change our behaviors to stop a potentially devastating epidemic,” the article reads. 

Folks who want one of Parish’s homemade masks can bring either a cash donation or a pet food donation to her clothing boutique in Tisbury.

“I’m not going to try and profit off this, I want to do something for the community,” Parish said.

Parish said that now that nonessential Island businesses have ceased operations, she has tons of free time to make the masks. 

“My dogs are hanging out with me all day, so I figured it was pretty obvious how I was going to do this and who to do it for,” Parish said. 

Any cash donated will go toward pet food for Island community members.

“People can leave money, cat food, dog food, birdseed, whatever they want, and they can take a mask. They don’t need to come inside or anything,” Parish said.

Parish’s first donor left her $40 to go toward pet food for her pantry, and got four masks in exchange. 

“My first customer wasn’t a pet person, but she wanted to help,” Parish said.

Parish has already had several requests for masks and for pet food, and said she isn’t running out of time or cloth scraps anytime soon. She is asking for donations of narrow elastics to make more masks. 

“They’re pretty darn cute too,” Parish said of her handmade masks. “I need something to do, and what better way to spend my time than helping people?”


Call Parish at 508-693-9044 to request a pet food donation or get more information about how to donate money or food.