The Million Mask Challenge started as a grassroots effort by a small group of Virginia women to sew cloth facemasks for our fearless healthcare providers in the battle against COVID-19.
Critical shortages of N95 masks have forced healthcare workers to make their own protective gear. The CDC has recently advised where facemasks are not available, providers might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) as a last resort.
In just a few days, our group grew from a few members to over 1,300 craftivists who are actively sewing masks, donating materials, reaching out to healthcare workers, responding to requests for masks, and distributing them across the Virginia, Maryland, and DC area. We are helping to establish the best designs and practices for a nationwide effort. A major part of our strategy is making covers to go on top of precious N95 masks, so they can last longer.
Currently, our volunteers have made and donated more than 42,000 masks. However, we have received regional requests for more than 95,000 masks from nurses, doctors, paramedics, firefighters, police officers, homeless shelters, clinic workers, and many other groups of critical workers who now must be at work, and also, must wear a mask while at work, every day. Every face mask costs about $1-$1.50 to make. Many of the craftivists in our group have already donated hundreds of dollars of materials and supplies to make masks, so we started this GoFundMe so the public could support these craftivists who continue to sew.
We hope to empower people to come together to help others and build community during this crisis, all while practicing safe social-distancing measures.
With a shortage of suppliers across the country, we are in need of the following items:
100% cotton fabric & other tight knit fabrics - (1.25 yards per set of 10 masks)
1/8th or 1/4th inch elastic - (12 feet for 10 Basic Surgical Masks, with ear loops)
1/4 inch bias tape, or 1/4 inch cotton twill tape - (6 feet per N95 Mask protective covering so can be tied into bows; or 20 yard roll per set of 10 masks - or 1.75 to 2 yards of extra fabric to make ties)
Gallon size plastic bags and black sharpie pens, to package and deliver masks; Also, replacement rotary cutters, needles, and parts for sewing machines that are breaking or need to be replaced due to the high volume of masks being made!
What We Plan to Do With the Funds:
We are buying supplies, supporting regional and local craft, fabric, and sewing stores. Our priority is local shop support, during this time of economic stress. Where local supplies are not available, we are making some wholesale account purchases with national vendors and large distributors for items such as twill ribbon, elastic, and other materials. Volunteers are taking the supplies and putting together pre-cut "Sew Ready" kits so that more masks can be made and returned to us more quickly, then delivered to those who need them. Kits are provided only to volunteers who have already made masks and demonstrated they can turn around the kits quickly, because we still need to make as many masks as possible, as quickly as we can.
Given the rapidly evolving situation, we also plan to begin to make other items as needed, such as surgical caps. Any funds left at the end of this fundraiser will be donated to a hospital foundation or other nonprofit organization that supports regional healthcare workers who are fighting COVID-19.
Read more about us:
WAMU NPR Story