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Nick Ward-Bopp of the Black and Veatch MakerSpace at Johnson County Library makes a mask

7 Easy Ways to Make Masks and Boost KC Makers, Health Care Workers


As the coronavirus pandemic disrupts daily life and forces small businesses to rethink their operations, some in Kansas City are stepping up and making a difference, using an old move that so many entrepreneurs know: the pivot.

But these pivots involve a key focus: PPE, aka personal protection equipment. There's no doubt you've read about the massive shortages with masks, protective garb and ventilators, so businesses are shifting to make a difference and helping alleviate projected shortages, especially the necessary equipment brave professionals need on the front lines to continue working.

With the most recent guidance from health officials recommending that everyone wear a mask in public, businesses in Kansas City are accepting donations, making masks and giving equipment to the folks who need them most.

Here are seven ways you can help and make an impact right now:

1. Donate supplies and make masks for St. Luke's

If you're in the Kansas City region, St. Luke's is accepting donations of supplies you can give or make; see what's needed most at the medical organization's site and check the site for the latest drop-off locations and times. If you’re interested in making masks, St. Luke's has a supply of antimicrobial fabric for makers who want to sew masks for care providers. Check the instructions here.

2. Donate masks to Johnson County

Johnson County, Kansas, is accepting donated masks in the event that medical-grade versions aren't available.

Here's a quick list of guidelines:

  • - Only finished masks will be accepted.

  • - Any “cloth surgical mask” patterns are fine.

  • - Go for thick fabrics – cloth or denim are preferable. No stretchy materials please.

  • - Elastic loops are preferred.

You can drop off masks at 205 E. Flaming Road in Olathe, Kansas, at the Johnson County MED-ACT station. Donations will be accepted in a basket from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

For more information, visit the county’s website here.

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3. Black & Veatch MakerSpace offers instructions, tips for making masks

Johnson County Library has all the deets on making masks, including the patterns, materials and even different mask types.

Plus, watch Nick Ward-Bopp, a facilitator at the Black & Veatch MakerSpace at Johnson County Library and owner of Maker Village KC, piece together a surgical mask at home with donated materials for frontline health care professionals.

Nick and his fellow makers at the Black & Veatch MakerSpace are looking for elastic bands and PETG film for face shields.

4. Hammerspace Community Workshop offers CAD files for face shields

If you have the ability to make laser-cut face shields, Hammerspace is offering a handy template to help you get the job done, along with a template for an elastic adapter, step-by-step assembly instructions and other goodies. Check out all that on the Hammerspace Community Workshop site.

5. Local KC Companies need your help to make masks

Made in KC and Sandlot have teamed up to help get masks to care providers, and there are three ways you can help. You can share the message (on the Made in KC website), donate money to cover the cost of materials and wages of the workforce, or sign up to sew masks from home.

6. Donate to help others make masks for Health Care Workers

Rightfully Sewn is looking for support to buy supplies to make masks and to cover wages for its seamstresses who are making those masks. According to the nonprofit organization’s website, these masks will be donated to five hospitals in the metro area, as well as other health care workers who need them.

The organization says the masks it makes cost less than $7 and that one day’s worth of work for a seamstress it employs is $190. Any gift over $500 will be matched. More details here.

7. Strawberry Swing showcases nonmedical-grade masks made by KC makers

Strawberry Swing Indie Craft Fair showcases hundreds of makers at its events, and in that same spirit, it’s still highlighting makers … just online. Its new sister site features a slew of goods from local KC makers, including some nonmedical-grade masks cut and stitched right in KC. Select the “Masks Kc” heading and peruse the other categories of goods and support your local makers and #ShopLocalKC.

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