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Portland woman's mask tree wins her a new Mazda

Ursula Hood hangs her handmade facemasks from the branches of a tree and gives them out all over Portland; her daughter nominated her for the award

PORTLAND, Ore. — Wearing a mask for protection is nothing new for Ursula Hood. She received a kidney transplant in 2011, and doctors recommend she wear PPE to avoid any complications. 

“Ever since then, whenever I’m in any crowded space I’ve always worn a mask just to protect myself," said Hood.

When COVID hit she saw an opportunity to share from her experience. "We all have to give back to each other, we have to help each other out," said Hood. "I’m super grateful for my donor and I was just thinking, well, how can I help the community?”

Hood used to work at a needlepoint shop, so when the pandemic hit, she started sewing masks for friends. 

When she decided to give them out to strangers she came up with the idea of a mask tree, with her creations covering the branches. She always has masks hanging for anybody to stop by and grab for free. She has also placed the masks near trailheads and benches, and she sews masks for Sellwood Community Center.

Credit: Ursula Hood
Ursula Hood sews masks for her community, finds unique ways to hand them out

Her good deeds didn't go unnoticed. Hood's daughter, Maxine, nominated her for the Mazda Heroes program, a chance for people making a difference to win a new car.  

"She started pumping out these masks like a mad woman and went around the neighborhood, left them at doors, left them at drop points for people to pick up," said Maxine in her entry video about her mom.

Credit: Ursula Hood
Portland woman creates mask tree filled with hand-sewn masks for community

Hood was touched by her daughter’s video but didn’t expect to win. Then came the call from Mazda. "He called and said, 'I want to be the first to congratulate you, you have been one of the 50 people picked to win a brand new Mazda,' and I was just speechless," said Hood.

Hood got the car in December. She is still making masks for her community today. She loves the car but is mostly driven by her desire to help others. "I have time on my hands. You have to help out where you can."

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