The coronavirus pandemic has caused a shortage in many supplies, including facemasks. Lee Jason Friend, a mindfulness coach in Rancho Mirage, founded the group Masks of Hope to distribute free masks to essential workers in the Coachella Valley. He tells News Channel 3 he has now distributed over 2000 masks, and counting, across the Coachella Valley and other areas in the world.
Friend said, "There’s a lot of other people making masks for the front line doctors and nurses but I wanted to make sure the essential workers were able to get masks as well." Friend was a costume designer for 20 years, now using his sewing skills to help the community during this coronavirus pandemic. Friend said, "The looks on their faces when I show up with these masks, it really warms my heart. And it’s what’s getting me through this is seeing the good in people."
In just nine days, Masks of Hope distributed over 2,000 masks to people in the Coachella Valley and even as far as Croatia. Friend has gotten numerous volunteers together. He has people sewing in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco distributing masks everywhere. Even with many volunteers, he is still calling out for more volunteers that can sew. Friend added, "Even if you don’t sew fast, that’s fine. Because one mask can save multiple lives." In the Coachella Valley he has three volunteers sewing with him and helping distribute masks. Friend emphasized, "But if we could make that 10 people or 20 people, the things we could accomplish. We could get these to everybody who possibly wants one."
Friend said he could also use a volunteer to help with emails. He said he has gotten so many emails that he just can't keep up with. Friend added, "Sewers, even delivery people, and the other thing we really need is someone who has access to make photocopies." The photocopies are to help add in notes with each delivery. Friend said, "If you do make a donation, or even if you don’t, we make sure the masks go out with a little note letting people know that get them that somebody cared to send them a mask."
When it comes to fabric donations, Friend mentioned he does get all different kinds of patterns and will take any kind of fabric that he can get. The one thing to make sure is that it is cotton. Stretch knit fabric allows more particles to get through, which isn't what you want with a facemask.
He is also now making more masks for children. Calling out for more children fabric designs with Mickey Mouse or other patterns.
Another thing Masks of Hope is looking forward to delivering are small kits where families that can sew can put together their masks themselves. Friend said it is a very easy thing to put together and he will deliver these kids to people throughout the Coachella Valley.
When it comes to shipping these masks outside the Coachella Valley. Friend said even just a $3 donation can help ship out 10 masks.
Friend adding towards the end, "I promise you, we call these masks of hope, because there is hope out there."
While the coronavirus crisis is keeping us apart, we know the Coachella Valley community is still coming together to help each other.
We are looking for those who are lending a hand during this uncertain time. Do you know of any everyday people who are going out of their way to help others? Have you seen someone find creative solutions to the new challenges we all face?
News Channel 3 wants to celebrate these neighborhood heroes. Tell us about them here. Enter below or email SHARE@kesq.com. If you see good happening on social media, share it with us, and tag it #neighborhoodheroes for us to see.
We are all in this together. Help us showcase the good that's happening right here in the Coachella Valley.