Overwhelmed, but sewing on, group stops distributing mask kits and accepting donations

Dayton Sewing Collaborative instead encourages donations to Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, Montgomery County Emergency Management and Public Health – Montgomery County

A little more than a week after its project began, organizers of an effort designed to help with the coronavirus emergency have stopped taking donations and distributing mask-making kits.

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Dayton Sewing Collaborative director Brenda Rex is instead encouraging people to donate homemade face masks to the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association (GDAHA), Montgomery County Emergency Management and Public Health – Montgomery County.

The agencies have established a mask-making standard, a centralized collection site and a defined process for sanitizing and distributing the masks where they are needed, Rex said.

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“It is overwhelming,” she said of the response to the collaborative’s project.

Those wanting to donate homemade face masks can drop them off at St. Vincent de Paul, 945 S Edwin C Moses Drive, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., a press release from the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association instructs.

More information can be found at http://gdaha.org/news/. 

Rex said the Dayton Sewing Collaborative’s project has been successful in filling a gap for those in need of masks.


More than 275 have been delivered to organizations hoping to use them to help reduce the spread of Covid-19, Rex said.

Dayton Sewing Collaborative volunteers are currently making about 1,500 more masks as part of the project.

“We are not stop making masks,” Rex said. “(The project has) got a lot of of volunteers. We need people out there sewing.”

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Amelia Robinson

The collaborative will no longer distribute kits or accept fabric donations, but members will continue to help produce mask.

The small group of volunteers working out of the the collaborative’s space inside of the Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley building, 660 S. Main St. in Dayton, will no longer meet there and will instead practice social distancing at their homes.

“We are trying to spend as much time out of the space and not interacting,” Rex said.

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Brenda Rex took a call Monday morning from a nearly sobbing woman who works with a local nursing home.

The woman was screaming, but Rex says her emotions were out of frustration and not anger.

“It was more of a plea,” Rex said. “It was more like, ‘Do something.’”

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Credit: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Since Friday, Rex and about three dozen Dayton Sewing Collaborative volunteers in homes around the community have been pumping out reusable face masks for local organizations that need them, as worries mount that there is not enough to sustain the nation during the coronavirus crisis.

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Around the nation, some hospitals have run so short of the masks and other personal protection equipment that they've had to ration them, according to the Associated Press. In some places, doctors and nurses have been given just one per shift, forcing them to wash them out between patients.

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration on March 15 asked dentists, veterinarians and other health care providers to postpone elective surgeries in an effort to preserve the number of available masks and personal protective equipment.

Rex, the Dayton Sewing Collaborative’s director, has received requests for about 1,200 face masks from a list of organizations that includes nursing homes, doctor’s offices and drug treatment centers.

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A few hundred masks have already been made, and Rex expects more requests to come in as the crisis deepens.

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Amelia Robinson

“We are full-steam ahead making masks,” Rex said. “It kind of runs the gamut of who is asking for these.”

Housed in the Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley, 660 S. Main St. in Dayton, the collaborative is a nonprofit that provides equipment, supports infrastructure and provides studio space for sewing and textile related businesses.

The Dayton Sewing Collaborative masks will be sanitized with steam before they are distributed free of charge to organizations in need.

Volunteers are using kits assembled by the collaborative or their own supplies to make the masks, which are based on a design from the Turban Project, a nonprofit that has donated more than 45,000 turbans, courage caps, beanies, crochet/knit hats, scarves, and reusable medical face masks to cancer patients since 2012.

The masks are not rated for disease control.

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Amelia Robinson

“We are trying to do what we can with what we have,” Rex said. “What we really need now is cotton (fabric).”

The collaborative is seeks additional volunteers, as well as monetary donations and materials: cotton flannel, the biggest need; 100 percent woven cotton material and 1/8” flat elastic.

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Dayton Sewing Collaborative volunteer Tursia Turner, a retiree, said she saw first-hand how much medical personnel care for their patients when she was treated recently at Kettering Medical Center.

Those who help others deserve to be helped, she said.

“That’s what it is all about, just everyone being protected,” she said.

Donations are being requested through the collaborative's PayPal.com accounts. For more details, send an email to DaytonSewing@gmail.com.

The form to request free masks can be found here.

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Amelia Robinson

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