An effort to provide fabric masks to health care workers and first responders during the COVID-19 crisis is under way through a collaboration with Wichita State University’s makerspace – GoCreate, a Koch collaborative – and Bella Bonita Designs, a local fashion company.
The collaboration, called “Project Protect ICT,” started with Stella Hankins, owner of Bella Bonita. Hankins wanted to find a way to help address the shortage of masks in the Wichita area by using her business and the resources she had access to, including the textile facilities at GoCreate.
Hankins and the team at GoCreate quickly mobilized and have formed a coalition of makers across Wichita nearly 900 people strong. Volunteers have been sewing fabric masks from tightly woven cotton and elastic to create face masks for the Wichita community.
While fabric masks do not provide the same level of protection as medical masks, first responders and health care workers across the country have been requesting the fabric masks for those in non-critical situations. The donated fabric masks offer the benefit of being sterilized and re-used.
Makers who would like to join the Project Protect ICT initiative can donate masks to the Shocker Store at Wichita State’s Rhatigan Student Center through a curbside drop-off process detailed at www.wichita.edu/ppe.
In partnership with the Project Protect ICT initiative, two In the Bag Cleaners locations are accepting donated face masks. Both locations offer a drive-thru window to maximize social distancing efforts:
- 2250 N. Ridge Road at 21st and Ridge
- 3700 N. Woodlawn at 37th and Woodlawn
After receiving the donated fabric masks, In The Bag Cleaners will clean and sterilize them within 24 hours and deliver them to local hospitals and medical teams in need.
Hankins also wanted to create an economic opportunity for individuals who have become unemployed because of the pandemic. Focusing on women in recovery, Hankins has employed women to sew fabric masks available for a donation on her website, www.bellabonitadesigns.com.
For questions regarding Project Protect ICT, or for health care providers requesting masks, contact ProjectProtectICT@gmail.com.