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Volunteers Making Masks in Montpelier

Lucia Aguayo helps her mother, Erin, create masks for neighbors and essential workers.
When the shortage of face masks became a concern in early March, Erin Aguayo realized she could pitch in by making a few masks herself. But as the threat posed by COVID-19 quickly grew, Aguayo was thrust into a central role of obtaining fabrics and patterns for sewing the masks, and distributing those materials to the nearly 30 volunteers who joined the effort to create and distribute finished masks to those on the frontlines of essential services.

For several years, Aguayo has been involved with the Montpelier team of Days for Girls, an international volunteer organization that distributes washable menstruation pads for girls and women around the world. Days for Girls has 1,200 sewing chapters, teams, and clubs across the U.S.

Masks left in bags on Erin Aguayo’s porch for their new owners to pick up. Photo by Erin Caro Aguayo.

“In Montpelier, our team has included about 25 to 30 participants. We have been able to respond to the immediate need for masks,” Aguayo said, “Because the sewers have the skill and machines, and Days for Girls had appropriate fabric available, it’s had a very flexible effect.”
It takes about 15 minutes to sew a mask, Aguayo said, and many volunteers are producing as many as 40 masks a day. Aguayo learned sewing from her mother, and her own children have pitched in to help with production.

For anyone planning a DIY mask, Aguayo cautions against cutting up a HEPA vacuum cleaner bag for use as an inserted filter. “Those filters are made of very fine fiberglass elements which are very dangerous to inhale,” she said. Paper towel sheets or paper coffee filters are preferred.
Aguayo, who has been sheltering at home with her family for nearly a month, said that people without sewing skills can still help with getting materials to those who are sewing masks and delivering finished masks to where they are needed. For more information, contact montpeliervt@daysforgirls.org