Volunteers form ‘PPE Brigade’ to make masks for frontline workers and first responders

Volunteers form ‘PPE Brigade’ to make masks for frontline workers and first responders

HARRISBURG, N.C. (WBTV) - A group of volunteers from the Harrisburg area have come together to make masks for frontline workers and first responders because of the coronavirus pandemic. The collection of more than a dozen mask-makers is being called the ‘PPE Brigade’.

Katherine Crawford, a Harrisburg resident and founder of the PPE, or personal protective equipment, Brigade, said she started making masks for her daughter who works as a nurse.

“She just felt a little bit like we needed to be proactive just in case there was a problem,” explained Crawford. “She asked me to sew masks for her.”

The Harrisburg resident said she started making the masks for her daughter’s colleagues, too. Crawford said her daughter posted about the masks on an online forum and ended up getting hundreds of requests from other healthcare workers. Crawford then recruited more mask-makers through social media.

“We just all came together. We were just brought together for the moment,” said Crawford.

Several members of the PPE Brigade met Monday afternoon in Harrisburg. WBTV spoke with a few different members of the group. They explained why they wanted to be a part of the volunteer effort.

“This was actually a social media thing. I saw it. I had been sewing masks for my family in Boston. They’re all in the medical field,” said Tori Collier, a member of the group.

Neal Pender, a Concord resident, said he too has been sewing masks for frontline workers.

“My mom taught me to sew when I was seven, taught me to use a sewing machine,” said Pender. “I found out about this group through Facebook and I just thought, ‘what better way to honor her memory than to use her sewing machine and the skills she taught me to help out some people that need these masks?’”

Crawford said she has personally sewn around 400 masks. She said not only has the group delivered the masks to local frontline workers and first responders, but they have also shipped the masks to different healthcare workers around the world.

“We’ve sent them off to Germany. We’ve sent them off to England. We’ve sent some off to Spain. We’ve sent a whole bunch across the United States,” said Crawford.

While the PPE Brigade has helped create hundreds of usable masks, the group has also helped bring community members together.

“What I love about this group is that we all have different beliefs and we all come from different political sides and we’ve more taken the view of humanity,” said Sabrina Lewis, another member of the organization.

Collier said the group has already shipped 1,500 masks in addition to the local deliveries they’ve made. She said they have no plans of slowing down anytime soon.

“I will keep doing it until there is absolutely no need for a mask,” said Collier.

Crawford said the group makes no money off of the masks and does not accept monetary donations. However, she said the PPE Brigade will take donated materials that can be used to make masks.

The PPE Brigade can be reached at 704-792-7057 or at PPEbrigade@gmail.com. The group also has its own Facebook page.

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