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13,075 and counting: one Niagara County group's mask making mission

Posted at 4:06 PM, Apr 13, 2020

OLCOTT, N.Y. (WKBW) — Hundreds of volunteers across western New York share a common thread: to make as many masks as they can for those on the front lines.

The group out of Niagara County is called “Community Solution PPE: Operation Sewing Squad."

Gina Guido-Redden of Olcott is the group organizer. She said the idea was born after she made about 100 masks on her own and posted her work to Facebook. She said many reached out asking if they too could get involved.

“Within 24 hours, it was 200 people. And now, between actively sewing, cutting and driving to houses, we have about 300.”

Everyone works remotely from their own home and Guido-Redden uses the Facebook page to coordinate the entire initiative.

She said so far, they’ve delivered more than 13,000 masks.

Guido-Redden said she can’t fill individual orders simply because the need is too great. Instead, the group is focused on providing masks for those on the frontlines.

“We have provided them to several hospitals, several nursing homes, the Niagara County Dept. of Health, and the N.C. Sheriff’s Office,” she said just to name a few.

Guido-Redden isn’t taking any monetary donations. But, she is accepting 100% cotton fabric and elastic donations. If you’d like to help but don’t have those supplies handy, she’s partnered with Marie’s Sewing Center in Lockport. “She will go into the store even though it’s not open, package it up, people can pay over the phone, and then she will get it to us in the same day.”

Guido-Redden said she’ll keep going as long as she has the supplies and there’s a need. It turns out the hundreds of strangers in her squad are offering more than just sewing.

“The surprise out of all of it has been the wonderful friendships that are developing through that community. I’ve made friends that I think will last a lifetime,” she added.