Silver Spring Residents Donate Homemade Face Masks

About 40 Silver Spring residents have joined as a “virtual” team to make face masks. As of Wednesday, they had donated almost 250 masks, with the majority delivered to Holy Cross Hospital and the rest to Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA) Hospice Care in Rockville.

The cloth masks are being worn by nurses and doctors when they aren’t working with patients so their N-95 medical masks will last longer, explained Dr. Greg Jolissaint of Holy Cross.

“We are giving them to our colleagues for walking back to their cars, when they go to the cafeteria and Starbucks,” he said.

There is a huge need, because masks get wet and uncomfortable if worn too long so the staff likes to have at least two.

“The public has just stepped up and created thousands,” he said.

Listed on the hospital’s website are instructions on how to make the masks and other suggestions on how best to help the hospital staff.

Holly Harness and Judith Weinberg are the moving forces behind the Silver Spring group. Their private Facebook page, Neighborhood Face Making Project, has 110 members.

Some sew the masks, others purchase and donate supplies and some even offer up their sewing machines.

Those who don’t sew, cut the pattern, Harness said.

All this is done within the bounds of social distancing. Sewers work separately in their own homes and then either leave their finished masks or materials outside their house for pickup or drop them off at a specified spot.

Harness was watching a Rachel Maddow television show about making face masks and decided to start one locally. At first, she received a lot of pushback from people saying the masks have to be made a certain way, Harness said.

But she soon realized that as long as the mask covers a person’s mouth and nose “so they don’t cough up droplets,” it would be helpful.

Also, she said that face masks “really remind you not to touch your own face.”

About two-and-half weeks ago, she learned that Holy Cross on Forest Glen Road would welcome the homemade masks.

“They said they would take as many as you give us,” Harness said.

Because people are sewing in their own homes, the masks look quite different. Some are plain, but most have colors and patterns.

Not only are the sewers helping those who are on the front line, Harness said she feels good because she is helping and keeping busy.

“This really helps with my anxiety,” she said.

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