By Stephanie Melo
Over 700 members have joined a Facebook group started on March 22 to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to essential workers in Suffolk County.
The Suffolk County Creators of COVID19 Medical Supplies Facebook page has incorporated some 100 members a day since it was started, the creator of the group, Rebecca Kassay said.
Together the group has sewn over 1500 masks which have already been donated to over 27 facilities such as Medford Multicare, and West Babylon Cares. The members of the group are currently working on cloth masks and surgical caps for St. Charles Hospital, St. Catherines Hospital, and Mather Hospital, along with gathering donations for the Port Jefferson Homeless Shelter and Soup Kitchen, and the Suffolk Fire Academy.
“I essentially taught myself to sew with the help of this group,” Anique Schachner, a member of the Facebook group said. “While it’s a small number compared to some, I’ve been able to contribute 75+ masks.”
Due to the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases, essential workers have succumbed to the lack of protective gear, such as N95 respirator masks, surgical caps, gowns and gloves. Not having the ability to stay home and social distance, these frontline personnel are left exposing themselves while assisting the rest of the community.
“Homemade masks can be washed and reused,” Alexis Points, a traveling registered nurse said.. “They can also cover the actual masks to make them last longer. We’re becoming desperate and accepting anything we can get.”
The Suffolk County Creators of COVID19 Medical Supplies group page includes links for members to teach anyone how to sew. Functional fabrics are also listed for those who may have some supply willing to donate.
“When I started making masks, I realized I would soon run out of material and elastic,” Kristina Gale, another member of the group said. “I put the word out and so many friends offered donations.”
For better organization, Kassay created a spreadsheet and shared the link for any members to edit with information on supplies available, which institution requested it, and whether or not delivery or pickup is necessary. Many are coming to find out how useful the group is to help one another.
“I needed to get to a large group of people,” the volunteer organizer and page creator, Rebecca Kassay said. “About 100 people a day are joining.”
And while the focus is on medical workers all over the news, Kassay says that the masks are for all essential workers.
“Grocery store workers will benefit from what we make,” Kassay said.. “Non-profits, the homeless shelter in Port Jeff had a huge interest as well.”
During the quarantine, many are finding the group allows them to feel less helpless restraining themselves at home.
“Preparing these masks for those on the frontlines of this battle allows us to safely contribute to the fight they are so selflessly waging,” Victoria Malone, a member of the Facebook group said.
Though the orders from Governor Cuomo require all non-essential traffic to halt, the 700+ members are strategizing and organizing ways to continue to contribute such as, placing items in mailboxes to keep their distance and following all protocols put in place.
“My mom called us The Rosie the Riveters of our generation,” Diane Theresa, another member of the Facebook group said.