EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- JOANN stores nationwide are offering free mask making kits to customers to combat the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers during the fight against COVID-19.
At the Eau Claire location, store manager Trista Wade says customers have returned 413 completed masks in just one week since starting this program.
Each kit comes with about a yard of fabric, thread and instructions. Many stores have run out of elastic for the masks and have transitioned to making a new pattern that ties instead. Each kit can make 12 masks.
Once the masks are completed, customers can return them to Joann and they will be distributed to local hospitals.
“When you bring them back we are more than happy to give you more supplies to keep make them,” Wade says.
While these masks are not considered PPE by the CDC, local hospitals including HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals have asked for homemade mask donations in case a shortage hits the Chippewa Valley.
According to the CDC these masks can be used for COVID-19 patients as a last resort to save PPE for healthcare workers.
Wade says the Eau Claire store has already donated 622 yards of fabric, 317 spools of thread, 29 packages of elastic and nationally JOANN has donated 11 million masks to hospitals.
Customers can pick up the masks in the store or do curbside pickup to avoid any interaction.
Local hospitals including HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals have asked for homemade mask donations.
Anyone is encouraged to get involved, especially while many are stuck at home.
“The masks are super easy to make. I have a ten year old who can make them as well so they are really simple and we did that so anyone with any skill level can help,” Wade says.
If you have materials at home and need Joann’s pattern, click here.
JOANN is also donating fabric to Neiman Marcus to make scrubs and scrub hats for healthcare workers.
“We are a company with crafters who never cease to amaze us with what they are willing to help with if it is on a local level, a state level, a national level, crafters are a special breed of people,” Wade says. “I have learned you can never underestimate a sewer because they want to help.”