Kūpa‘a Kaua‘i: A Unified Vision for Our Island’s Recovery

Story – Massive Masks for Kauai

How Massive Masks for Kauai grew to a community effort

Massive Masks for Kauai is a wonderful story of how Kris Hunt’s desire to help the people of Kauai turned into a massive community effort. Read about her story and if you know of more stories of Kupaa, please Share Your Story>

What began as my little mask project, to help provide back up masks for our local hospitals, first responders and essential workers during the COVID-19 lockdown, immediately became an island-wide effort to create and distribute cloth face masks to all of Kauai. I created the facebook group, Massive Masks for Kauai in Mid-March to share mask patterns, ideas, and information on who needs what, where, when and how. It grew quickly as more and more volunteers across Kauai joined efforts. The idea is a simple one, use donated fabric/supplies and our volunteers wash, cut and sew it into reusable cloth face masks which we then give back to our community for free. The safety of our island people is vital, and we want to be sure that anyone who needs a mask, will have the opportunity to get a mask.

When I formed the facebook group, I really did not foresee how many people would join my little mask project. It was a bit overwhelming at first, and I have no words that can fully express my gratitude to each and every one of our volunteers. We truly could not have been as successful with this project without the help of each and every one of them. There was such a demand for masks, I did not realize just how big a bite I took. One morning, I received a phone call from Morgan Lopez, whom I hadn’t met before, reaching out to see if she could help. Little did she know just how much help I needed but she jumped in with both feet. I am forever grateful and indebted to her for all that she does to keep us moving forward. We joined forces, Morgan running the organization side, and me cutting and sewing. At one point we had over 3,000 orders, and only a few volunteers sewing. Morgan, using some contacts through HLTA, worked her magic and before long the number grew to just under 100 volunteers. She was tasked with keeping track of incoming mask requests, organizing our volunteer squad (delivery drivers, fabric cutters, sewists), and every other little detail it took to streamline our efforts. She said to me, “Don’t you worry about it, I’ve got this, you just sew.” And sew I did.

Lee Evslin, whom many of you know from his articles he occasionally writes for The Garden Island newspaper, reached out to me one day suggesting a website and help to build it. So, before long, our website was created, thanks to volunteer Chris Gamby. This made order tracking and delivery so much easier as more and more people were able to access the how-to’s for making masks, information about our project, and a simple order form or sign up to volunteer. www.massivemasksforkauai.org
Once the stay-at-home order was modified, more people were out and about and our delivery drivers were returning to work, we saw the need to shift gears a bit. We partnered with both Ohana Sports Medicine Physical Therapy clinics (Kalaheo and Kapa’a) to offer convenient drop off and pick up locations for donations and mask orders. This has made filling orders much more efficient.

To date, MM4K has sewn and distributed over 7,000 free reusable cloth face masks to our community. A few organizations we have made masks for include Wilcox Hospital, KVMH, Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital, KEMA, Hawaii Food Bank, BAYADA Home Care, PATCH, Kauai Hospice, Malama Kauai, Kauai Humane Society, Gather Federal Credit Union, The Salvation Army, the houseless communities across the island, The Department of Education, School Lunch workers providing Grab-n-Go meals for our keiki, Akita Enterprises, Kauai Air Conditioning, Starbucks Kukui Grove, Malama Pono Health Services and many, many more organizations, individuals and families on Kauai.

One of the most special memories I will hold forever in my heart is the unquestionable support Kauai has for one another. So many of our volunteers have said to me, “Thank you for giving me something to do to take my mind off of current events.”, or “Sewing is good to relieve my stress.” We continue our efforts, forever hopeful to ensure the safety of our island. As it appears COVID-19 is still active in our community, so are we.

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