Cross-sector coalition crafts thousands of masks for Richmond community
When health officials began advising the use of protective face masks to slow the spread of COVID-19, many individuals and agencies had difficulty finding or affording the masks they needed. In response, businesses, nonprofit staff, universities, and thousands of volunteers across the region stepped up to create and source masks for our community.
Studio Two Three provided a safe and fully stocked workspace for in-person volunteers to craft masks, and they also created step-by-step instructions for volunteers to follow from home. Meanwhile, staff from the Richmond Ballet began creating washable fabric masks from their costume studio, as did faculty and students from the VCU Department of Fashion Design + Merchandising.
“This season, when we had to stop dancing, our costume shop had the skills to make a positive impact through mask-making,” said Emily Morgan, Costume Director for the Richmond Ballet. “When we were given the opportunity to connect our mask-making efforts to the Community Foundation, we saw a chance to serve Richmond Public Schools students and families in a new way. Until we can dance together again, we can help keep our community safe and well.”
To support this powerful example of civic action and cross-sector partnership, the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond convened these groups to combine efforts, connect with organizations serving individuals in high-risk communities, and create a centralized location for coordinated mask distribution.
The Foundation also developed a unique partnership with Ledbury, a local menswear retailer that saw this critical need and reacted quickly to pivot their manufacturing sites from creating men’s shirts to making cloth masks. For every mask sold, the retailer has donated one towards these local distribution efforts.
"We have been blessed by the opportunity to make masks and help supply a crucial need, while keeping our business operating during this challenging time," said Paul Trible, co-founder and CEO of Ledbury. “As a company, we certainly wanted to pay that forward. Once we learned of the Community Foundation’s efforts, we were excited to do all we can to help."
By the end of this effort, the coalition will have distributed over 35,000 masks to organizations across Greater Richmond providing essential services to our neighbors during the pandemic, including Richmond Public Schools, Richmond City Health Department and Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond.