Mask-making in the time of COVID-19
I have made 539 masks in quarantine.
It all started with one mask. When COVID-19 first hit, I needed a mask to go out, so I made one. Because I quilt in my spare time, I had a lot of high-quality fabric and yarn already and offered employees from the London office masks as well. Some were custom-made with requests for professional-looking material or fun patterns. People offered to pay, but then generously donated to a local homeless shelter at my suggestion to give back to communities that are most impacted.
When the protests started in Seattle, it broke my heart that I couldn’t be there. Activist friends asked for masks to support the movement and the people fighting for racial justice, and I was able to send 50 to Seattle. I also started learning about and connecting with organizations like the UK Mask Network, which delivers masks to people around the city. Navajo Nation has been really impacted with the highest rate of COVID-19, and has asked for masks. One of the gift cards that I won during Lighthouse’s virtual weeklong employee summit in July was in US dollars, so I bought 200 masks on Amazon and sent them to the Navajo Nation. I’ve also made masks for the Seattle Mask Brigade, elderly homes, and LGBTQ and youth shelters in Fairbanks, AK where I grew up.
So many people are still in need of masks, despite the mass-marketing of them currently – even to organizations in need. That’s why for months now I’ve spent my evenings and weekends making masks, adjusting for better makes and models along the way – including trying out window masks and a variety of different fasteners, and adhering to the WHO and CDC recommendations. I can’t go out and volunteer in the ways that I normally would, but mask-making allows me to give back.
Making masks is a whole process, taking nearly two days to complete a batch. After they are sewn, I wash them and then let them dry out in the sun. From there I use gloves to package them into sandwich bags and then figure out where to send them. When I have extras, I head to a church nearby that has a take-one-leave-one box and whenever I walk by again, they’re gone.
From Lighthouse employees donating money so I can continue to make masks to joining video-gaming fundraisers to support mask-making and COVID-19 relief, I’ve been humbled by the opportunity to do something during these difficult and weird times.
I recently was able to take advantage of the 16 hours of VTO to dedicate solely to making masks. I made 150 masks in two days. I have 400 more in the works.
You can watch highlights from my mask adventure on Instagram. To learn more about organizations I’ve donated to, as well as how to make your own masks, visit the links below.