FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 24, 2020
CONTACT: Justin Vest, Executive Director
CONTACT: Warren Alan Tidwell, Lead Organizer
Hometown Action Recruits 500 Volunteers for Mask-Making Drive Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
Over 500 people are taking part in a mask-making drive through the grassroots organization Hometown Action as hospitals and medical clinics around the state report a shortage of essential supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Started in Auburn by organizers with Hometown Action and members of a local quilters guild, the groups are coordinating with the East Alabama Medical Center, local pharmacies, urgent care facilities, and veterinary clinics to provide individually-crafted cotton masks to medical professionals and community members in need.
There have been widespread reports of nurses and other medical staff reusing or going without protective equipment as supplies run low just over a week after Governor Ivey declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The CDC lists homemade masks as a crisis response option.
"The project started by a few of us trying to provide cotton masks to immunocompromised people in rural parts of Lee County--many of whom were impacted by the tornadoes that killed 23 people here last year--but quickly grew into a huge, coordinated effort as more and more people heard about it and wanted to get involved" said Hometown Action Lead Organizer Warren Tidwell.
The influx of volunteer-made masks will help fill some of the needs in the current PPE shortage by providing them directly to frontline workers and individuals who require masks on a daily basis for low-level filtration needs. Volunteers have consulted with doctors and other medical professionals to identify the best way to construct and deliver the masks to prevent transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
"One volunteer had the brilliant idea of using the little free libraries that are around many local neighborhoods as quarantine stations for pick up and drop off of masks to maintain social distancing," Warren said.
Another group has been launched in North Alabama where many of the masks will be delivered to volunteer fire departments in rural areas who are often the first on the scene of any emergency. Additional groups are being formed in West Alabama and the River Region and Hometown Action members are actively coordinating with groups in the Greater Birmingham area as well. Anyone interested in helping can sign up to join a mask-making group.
The mask-making groups have formed in just the past week but have already delivered 150 masks and plan to start producing PPE in the coming days. The effort is part of a larger Community Care project developed by Hometown Action in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The group is encouraging anyone with extra medical grade, surgical, or N95 masks to donate them to their local county health departments to further increase PPE during this critical shortage.
Alabama residents can also take a brief survey to help the organization better understand how the coronavirus is impacting your local community.
Hometown Action works to advance racial, gender, economic, and climate justice through multiracial grassroots organizing centering small town and rural communities across Alabama.
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