A Woodstock man is on a mission to make masks for the masses.
Cedric Thomas’s #Sew4Safety mask-making drive wants to give free masks to everyone who needs them, with priority given to essential workers and those most vulnerable to Covid-19.
Mr Thomas said he had wanted to do something to aid in the fight against the pandemic and help the most vulnerable in the community. The project drew support after the Woodstock Community Action Network(CAN) promoted it on WhatsApp.
Hester Trill, Ughetta Parenti and Bernadette Muthien were among the first to sign up to promote the #Sew4Safety message. Then a Woodstock fabric manufacturer gave them material at cost price and a Salt River transport company offered to distribute the masks, which a dress designer had volunteered to design.
“The mask is made out of 60% cotton; it is reusable and it has four layers of material,” Mr Thomas said.
“In the beginning, there was a lot of trial and error before they got the masks’ design correct.”
Women with and without sewing machines have been volunteering to make the masks at home.
Mr Thomas calls them the “sewing angels” and they are in Woodstock, Sea Point, Green Point, Claremont, Vredehoek and the Amy Foundation in Sybrand Park.
Ms Parenti, of Woodstock, said it had been stressful in the beginning to get things moving.
“I enjoyed working with Mr Thomas; I didn’t even see the bottom half of his face,” she said, adding that the project was a chance for her to work with skilled and experienced seamstresses.
“They would accompany me to the fabric store and they would advise me what kind of material works best.”
Amy Foundation spokeswoman Michelle Bagley said they had had four seamstresses with sewing machines but no material.
“So we got in touch with Mr Thomas through his Facebook page to say we can help.”
The foundation then sourced donations of used hotel linen that could be turned into masks.
The project prioritises masks for front-line workers such as the police, people working in feeding schemes, the elderly and the homeless. “There were also two non-profits that got in touch to find out how they can make masks for their communities,” Mr Thomas said.
So far the project, under the hashtag #Masks4All, has made about 440 masks and distributed 200 .
“We have a large population in the country and everyone needs a mask, and we would want to give a mask to everyone,” said Mr Thomas.
The project needs extra sewing machines and materials to keep turning out the masks.
If you can help, email Mr Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org with #Sew4Safety in the subject line. It’s also the name of the project’s Facebook page.