2 DC women raise funds to provide masks to vulnerable populations

Two D.C. women have started a fundraising drive, with the goal of getting local garment alteration shops to make face masks to be distributed to vulnerable populations in the city. (Courtesy Abby Buskager)

Two D.C. women are working to get cloth face masks made locally, and then donate them to residents who are especially vulnerable to contracting COVID-19.

About two weeks ago, during a walk to get takeout food, Abby Buskager passed a garment alteration shop with a sewing machine in the window.

“I just kept thinking to myself, there are a lot of resources out there, especially alteration shops that have all the resources to make face masks and make them quickly,” she said.

Buskager called her friend Ashley Valle the next day to brainstorm what they could do to make a difference during the coronavirus crisis. Both work for an international humanitarian assistance company.

“Pivoting local garment alteration shops to start making masks and then distributing them via networks that can reach at-risk populations and essential workers we thought would be the best approach,” Valle said.

So they launched a GoFundMe to raise money for “DC Mask Protection.”

Buskager and Valle began by working with a shop run by three generations of Salvadoran-American women.

Buskager and Valle provided the shop with fabric, and then paid for 100 finished masks. The shop then donated another 25 masks.

One hundred masks are being delivered to St. Elizabeths Hospital on Monday.

Next, the women will partner with a second shop, order another 100 masks, and work to get them to residents of Wards 7 and 8, which have been hard-hit by the coronavirus.

“We’re currently in the process of reaching out to local groups that have the capacity there to distribute to local populations in those wards,” Valle said.

In addition to helping prevent the spread of the virus, the hope is to provide a new revenue stream to local businesses that are capable of making fabric face masks.

“Ultimately, this initiative is borne out of our desire to support the local economy, paired with the desire to reach at-risk … and vulnerable populations in D.C.,” Buskager said.

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Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

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