Making masks, sanitizer: How to help small businesses pitch in on coronavirus response

As small businesses struggle in these uncertain times, some are taking their skills and helping the D.C. area meet immediate health supply needs.

Normally, Dawn Crothers runs the event rentals company Something Vintage. However, Crothers said every spring event on the schedule is canceled, so she came up with an idea for another way they could use their logistics expertise.

“It’s a lot of uncertainty. We just don’t know; the masks are at least a way to makes us feel positive, productive and putting good juju out into the universe and, hopefully, it makes a difference,” Crothers said.

Crothers decided her company could start making masks for health care workers and organizing a group of people who could sew them. She then began calling hospitals in need and asked for donations on Instagram.

“A lot of people do have material, but they don’t have the elastic needed. So we’re providing the material and the elastic … We have three or four drop-off locations right now. We have volunteers to take them to the hospitals,” Crothers said.


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Masking making maaaachines 💪, that’s what we are! THANK YOU a million to everyone who has already donated money, fabric, or their sewing skills to help make masks for our medical professionals! 👩‍⚕️👨‍⚕️ We are cranking out masks and have a list of hospitals that need them in the DMV📍. Want to help us? Here’s how:⠀ ⠀ 1. Sew from your home 🏠🧵. If you need materials, we have them for porch pick up in Cheverly, MD and in Alexandria, VA. DM us for a link to the tutorial and where to drop them off when you are done 🚙. ⠀ ⠀ 2. Donate money or fabric. 100% of the donations will go towards making the masks. Anything left over will be donated to the Centers for Philanthropy COVID-19 Response Fund. To donate, please send $ via Venmo: dawn-crothers and PayPal:⠀ ⠀ 3. Volunteer to deliver the completed masks to a hospital 🏥. We will give you the address where to pick them up and where to drop them off. ⠀ ⠀ And friends, if you have a sewing machine and don’t know how to use it or have forgotten, Singer has a great video on how to sew masks on Youtube. Zach and I taught ourselves last night and we cranked these rainbow beauties out! 🌈 You can do it too, I swear! ⠀ ⠀ Let’s do this! -Dawn

A post shared by Something Vintage Rentals (@smthingvintage) on

Carine’s Bridal in D.C. is also making masks. Its founder, Carine Krawiec, has been sewing through the night, and is asking the community for supplies, including dishcloths, cotton blend shirts, vacuum cleaner bags, 100% cotton shirts and 3/8 elastic.

The fundraiser posted online to purchase those items is already over $6,500 at the time of publication. Drop-off locations include:

  • Carine’s Bridal, at 1623 Wisconsin Ave. Northwest in D.C.;
  • Fluffy Thoughts, at 1320 Old Chain Bridge Road, in McLean, Virginia;
  • Amanda’s Porch, at 662 Lake Varuna Mews, in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

There are also efforts outside of mask-making. Compass Coffee and Republic Restoratives Distillery are producing 1,000 gallons each of hand sanitizer for D.C. government workers and first responders, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced during a press conference Monday.

Republic Restoratives founder and owner Pia Carusone said she felt like she didn’t have a choice whether to help, knowing her business had the means.

“The community is in need and we have the ingredients. We used guidance from the World Health Organization to find the right recipe and then we did some bench-scale testing before moving into mass production,” Carusone said.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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