The First Stitch
During the early days of the pandemic, Rep. Carolyn Comitta and Chester County Controller Margaret Reif learned that there was an outbreak in one of the county facilities. They wanted a way to protect the essential county employees, and wanted to ask community members to sew masks. Rep. Comitta began making phone calls and assembled a coalition of volunteers.
On Friday, she called people to build a website and social media, volunteers to answer volunteer questions, supply donors, and transportation volunteers. By Monday, the Chester County Masketeers had a website, Facebook page, Facebook volunteer group, and Google account. By the end of the week, Margaret created the infrastructure for distributing masks.
Our behind-the-seams crew grew to about 20 people who managed communications, volunteers, donations, and mask requests. Volunteers would sew masks for county employees and drop them off at police stations and homes throughout the county. Each drop-off location had a coordinator who picked up the items and distributed them to designated sites and organizations.
Changing Lives, one mask at a time
In the first month, our group distributed 2,480 masks to county staff including court reporters and staff, police and sheriff departments, nursing homes, voter services, and departments serving the elderly, people facing homelessness, children and families, veterans, and victims of domestic violence.
Our incredible volunteers met that demand in just a few weeks. So, we expanded our reach to include nonprofits and organizations serving vulnerable populations. That included local veterans groups, food banks, nursing homes, local schools, homeless shelters, the YMCA, Chester County Children, Youth & Families, COVID testing sites, prison, the Sheriff’s office, and organizations serving homeless families.
Nine months later
This group has been a true inspiration. We’ve received donations from families, groups of friends, churches, and Girl Scout Troops. Over the past nine months, individual “power sewers” have created thousands of masks by themselves! Our group has received yards and yards of fabric and other donated materials. The Chester County Library and individuals lent out machines for people who needed them. Since April, our group has sewn 9,789 masks for Chester County’s most vulnerable residents. Our volunteer Facebook group has over 380 members of donors, sewers, coordinators, and transport volunteers. Together, our group has covered Chester County and saved lives, one stitch at a time.