Local group makes 11,500 masks for those in need

The demand for protective masks has been higher than the supply, but the gap is smaller now with the efforts of one local mask making group.

“To provide some protection for people who are protecting us” was the goal a group of women had in mind when they created the volunteer-based group Mask Making for Athens.

In less than two months, the effort grew larger than anyone expected with 400 volunteers donating 11,500 masks to more than 100 organizations.

Courtesy Mask Making for Athens.

“It started to explode with people, and once it exploded with people, it started to explode with energy,” said Amy Baer, one of the administrators for Mask Making for Athens. “All we did was create a space, a safe space for people to give of their time, their talents, their treasures.”

Volunteers sign up to sew and deliver the masks to healthcare workers, fire stations, police departments and more.

“I said ‘Please, we’re in desperate need of masks.’ We had run out. We couldn’t find any anywhere,” said Sonya Griffith, regional office manager for a physicians care center in Athens.

The volunteers helped Freedom from Bondage, a recovery residence for women battling substance abuse and alcoholism.

Courtesy Mask Making for Athens.

The nonprofit received 70 masks in just a day after requesting them. 

“I’ve heard a lot of them tell me that the joy of just knowing that other people are out there volunteering and putting all this effort into providing a service for people who are less fortunate,” said Chris Church, the program director of Freedom from Bondage.

Homeless shelters turned to the mask makers as well.

Family Promise of Athens houses families for three months and provides them with transportation, housing, meals and resources. They received 75 masks.

“Definitely the masks in particular have helped with that because we have been able to have our volunteers come to serve in their normal capacity because of those masks,” said Blayne McDonald, service director for Family Promise of Athens.

And right now, healthcare workers especially rely on the community’s generosity.

“By the time we realized there was such a great need for [N-95 masks], there was absolutely nowhere to get those,” Griffith said. “We’re blessed to have lucked into them. It’s been a blessing.”

Courtesy Sonya Griffith.

Mask Making for Athens’ Facebook page is a private group, but anyone interested in volunteering can request to join and fill out an online form.

The Atlanta area also has a mask making group called Mask Making for Atlanta Healthcare Workers.