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Needleworkers unite to create masks for health care workers

The group 'Sewing Masks for Maine' started just two weeks ago, and has drawn more than 1500 volunteers to help create masks

MAINE, USA — During the coronavirus pandemic, so many Mainers who are safe at home are looking for ways they can still help. Many are looking to use skills they have and materials around their homes to lend a hand to health care workers on the front lines, and it turns out, six women all had the same idea. 

That idea was to make masks for health care workers across the state amid a shortage of personal protective equipment in Maine. 

"I know that there's a great well of generosity and skill and a deep desire to helpful and useful in this time," said Kris Hall, and admin of Sewing Masks for Maine. 

There was such a desire to help health care workers, three groups were formed on social media to bring together sewers from across the state to make masks.

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"Very quickly we realized that more than one effort was happening in the state, so we merged," said Kristen Peters, another admin of Sewing Masks for Maine. 

Since that merger, six women from all walks of life have stepped up as admins, using their skills to create on a centralized group of sewers, and creating a system for health care workers to request orders from their place of work. 

In just two weeks, more than 1500 volunteers have stepped up to help.

"Definitely kind of a rush of organization and all of that, but we have a good system now, so we really hope to keep filling the need as long as they exist," said admin Abby Gilchrist.

So far, the group has been able to create and deliver more than 2000 masks, and orders for roughly 8000 more have been placed. 

 "We're building our infrastructure to try and get ahead of the need, so once those come through, we can turn around and close those tickets as fast as possible," said admin Suzanne Dritschilo. 

Amid the state's critical personal protective equipment shortage, these masks are not considered official PPE, however, organizers say health care workers are requesting them as they can help extend the lives of equipment like N95 masks.

"If you have to make that mask last you five days, then we're hoping to provide that interim layer of protection. And that's what hospitals are asking for," said Hall. 

If you're interested in volunteering, you can learn more by visiting the group's website sewingmasksformaine.com. Health care workers looking to request masks are also able to do so here. 

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At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.newscentermaine.com/coronavirus