Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get started?
Please visit our How to get started page to begin!
What does this website offer that other mask group matching sites do not offer?
We offer many resources that will help new groups in the tri-state area (NY, CT, NJ) to form and match up with volunteers in their area. Information from our volunteer signups are automatically sorted by group and shared as a spreadsheet with group coordinators, so that they can get started right away.
We also provide existing groups with the tools to continue recruiting members from within their geographic community but outside of their regular networks.
Also, we are working on a more efficient way of matching up needs with groups; stay posted!
I make face shields/I am looking for face shields and filters
Please visit our partner site, Hack The Pandemic
What is this website for?
As you probably know, our first responders don’t have enough protective gear, and the CDC has also asked that everybody wear a mask when out in public. In order to fulfill the sudden tremendous need for masks, we need to get as many people as possible making masks! So this website exists to help educate volunteers, help new sewing groups form fast, and connect institutional requests with the groups.
I’ll list the types of problems we’re trying to solve.
Problem: Medical providers being swamped by a pile of 1,000 envelopes holding a few masks each.
Solution: Volunteer group leaders will claim responsibility for collecting large batches of properly made masks and delivering them to the facility in need.
Problem: Volunteers sending too many masks, or the wrong pattern masks.
Solution: The Current Needs page will provide a central place where volunteers can find information about how masks are needed, what patterns and materials are acceptable to medical providers.
Problem: Busy medical staff being peppered with questions by the public eager to help but not knowing what to do.
Solution: The Needs Form is quick for medical personnel to fill out, and automatically creates a blog post on the Current Needs page. Contact info and delivery information will be made available to volunteer group leaders, who will liaise with the medical facility.
Volunteers can visit the Current Needs page to see what help is needed and what patterns are accepted. Patterns and materials info will be available here. Volunteer leaders will be responsible for answering their questions and delivery.
Problem: Volunteers looking for groups, leaders looking for help.
Solution: Filling out the Volunteers Form will help identify clusters of people to work together. We will aid hospitals in recruiting community leaders to coordinate volunteers in their area to sewing masks.
Problem: Volunteer leaders having to compile dozens of emails of people who can sew but don’t have machines, people who have machines but can’t sew, people offering to drive, etc.
Solution: Sharing and filling out the Volunteers Form will make the process more efficient. We can deliver a spreadsheet with the info at the end of every day or two to regional leaders, so they can spend more time coordinating and sewing.
What is this website NOT for?
If you’re an individual hoping to sew and drop off masks directly to a hospital, this is not for you. We are trying to reduce the burden on hospitals of having hundreds of people dropping off small quantities, asking questions, etc.
I would like some masks for personal use. May I ask here?
Also, if you are an individual who wants a mask for personal use, please do NOT post on the Needs form at this time. Doing so will clutter up our Currents need page so that the needs of hospitals and providers may not get seen. But DO reach out to friends, family, or the community and ask them to make you masks using the patterns we provide. We also have links to no-sew masks made out of a t-shirt and a coffee filter.
How does the "For healthcare providers" Page work?
This page will provide a centralized place to collect and check information about what is needed by whom. It will automatically create a blog post about need, which will be published once reviewed. Volunteers and volunteer leaders coming to this site will be able to see your need. They can contact you or a volunteer leader to claim batches of work.
How does the Volunteers Page work?
The Volunteers page will help compile a spreadsheet of volunteer info to make it easier on organizers to keep track of who can do what. Currently it is set up only for volunteers in Larchmont and Mamaroneck, but we hope to expand its utility soon.
Do handsewn masks do any good?
According to this experiment, yes. It’s nicely explained by this website: https://smartairfilters.com/en/blog/diy-homemade-mask-protect-virus-coronavirus/
Many healthcare providers are using our masks to cover and extend the lifespan of their N-95 or other masks. Cloth masks are also being distributed to workers in lower risk settings, such as nursing homes and childcare, so that PPEs can be reserved for the higher risk workers.
The CDC now recommends that everyone wear a cloth mask when in public, reserving N95s for essential workers.
I have heard that cloth masks are ineffective. Why make them?
There has been research that shows that cloth masks are inferior to medical masks. However, such research did not compare cloth masks to NO masks, which is sadly, currently the alternative for many essential workers today.
The cloth masks should NOT take the place of medical grade PPE, and we should continue to push our lawmakers for adequate funding for emergency PPE production and distribution. The masks stockpiled in the Strategic National Stockpile should be distributed by need to ALL states, not preferentially to some states but not others.
We also need to invoke the Federal Defense Production Act immediately to make more PPE before states run out!
How do I choose among all these mask patterns?
Here is an excellent slideshow compiled by volunteers of the Tri-State Mask-Making Group, explaining the pros and cons of various models.
On our Patterns page, we have recommended our top patterns for the beginner and intermediate sewer.
I live in another state. May I ask for masks?
Sure, as long as we have bandwidth you are welcome to post here. However, most of the volunteers are in New York, so they may not be able to deliver items so easily or quickly to you.
I live in another state. May I make masks?
Of course! Please keep in mind that some facilities may be drop off or pick up only. We hope soon to add a map to this website so that you can find the nearest facility in need.
I have a suggestion to improve your site.
This website was thrown together in one day, because time is of the essence. If you are a web developer or designer and would like to help to improve this site, we will be very grateful for your help!
Future features may include a map, ability to claim batches of work, and an improved volunteers questionnaire that will work for all New Yorkers.
I can't sew. Do you take donations?
NEW! We now have a Donate page that lists the donation pages of several of our member groups.
This website and organization is a labor of love and the people working for it are all volunteers.
Please check the individual Needs posts to see if the facilities involved have posted their donation pages.
Some volunteer groups will also be taking donations to purchase materials. They’ll show up on Needs posts as well. Many groups running out of fabric, thread, and other supplies, so some donations in the form of gift cards to Jo-Ann’s fabric, Marshall Dry Goods, or similar may be welcome.
Finally, several of our participating groups are nonprofits who support refugees and/or women in crisis. These women, little as they have, are volunteering their time and skill to sew masks, and donations to support them would be appreciated.