We still don’t know a lot about coronavirus, despite it being in the forefront of our minds for the past few months. But what we do know is that the Centers for Disease Control has recommended people wear masks in public to prevent the spread.
Wearing a mask in public areas where it is difficult to social distance is a courtesy. In fact, for many, wearing a mask to the grocery store or pharmacy has become part of the new routine. While wearing a face covering may or may not protect the wearer, the CDC says it may keep the wearer from spreading the disease. In our book, that’s worth the effort.
Back in March, our United Way, along with other United Ways across the state, joined forces with Senator Joe Manchin’s office and several other organizations to support the MASKS 4 WV initiative. It started out as a call for people to sew because there was a shortage of protective equipment.
And that call was answered. It was something many people could do right from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
Our Engagement Manager Servando Arredondo and AmeriCorps Service Member Vinny Marroquin placed collection bins at three locations around town: Sabraton Kroger and the temporarily closed Clear Mountain Bank locations inside Kroger on Patteson Drive and also the one at Suncrest Towne Centre.
Each week, they made trips to the stores to pick up donated masks, which came in a variety of sizes and colors; some even had special prints for children. Those masks were delivered to agencies and healthcare facilities as requested. Servando and Vinny have transported donated masks to Meals on Wheels, Hazelton Prison, Mountain Line, several food pantries, and more.
The WVU School of Design and Interior Development stepped up to make masks and actually put kits together so that they could be distributed to others who could make masks. Local business, SustainU, worked hard to pump out masks for the effort, even sometimes using material from their own shirts to create them. And a group in Preston County reached out to ask for materials to make masks.
Even Vinny’s own mother, Patricia Marroquin, has been sewing masks for us to distribute since the pandemic started, making beautiful masks in a variety of colors and patterns.
In total, we have collected about 2,000 masks for the Masks 4 WV initiative. About half of them are medical-style masks that we ordered; many of our neighboring United Ways did the same. But the rest were generously made and donated by our amazing community members.
But as this pandemic carries on, so does the need for more protective equipment. With people going back to work and more and more businesses opening their doors with special measures in place, the need for masks keeps rising.
That’s why we’re asking you to help. Again. We could use your donations, whether it be completed masks or even material so others can make them.
We want to be able to give those people who are continuing to serve this community through this pandemic as much protection as possible. Our frontline heroes still need your help and support.
Volunteers who have the ability to sew are asked to make masks. You can drop them off at the Kroger locations listed above or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Learn more about Masks 4 WV and view an instructional video on how to make a mask at unitedwaympc.org/masks-4-wv.
Amanda Posey is the director of marketing and communications for the United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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