Nonprofit and community organizations across Arkansas continue to take creative action to assist our neighbors in need in the wake of COVID-19. From our COVID-19 Relief Fund, we were pleased to provide the Arkansas Arts and Fashion Forum with a $1,000 mini-grant to support the work being done with their Mask Maker Challenge project.
Rachel Woody-Pumford, Educational Program Coordinator at Arkansas Arts and Fashion Forum, a Northwest Arkansas based nonprofit, shares how that mini-grant has helped. “As of April 20, we have donated 2,167 masks to healthcare providers and essential employees in Arkansas. Our sewing studio that your mini-grant helped fund is allowing us to employ 14 part-time seamstresses and tailors, a project administrator, and two workshop managers to help ensure quality, sanitation, and safety. Being able to provide our sewing team this opportunity to work has been especially important during this fiscally difficult time for many people.”
Those who are sewing masks come from a variety of backgrounds, including northwest Arkansas natives and some immigrants who have relocated to the area over the past several years from the Marshall Islands, Democratic Republic of Congo and Afghanistan. It was a learning process. Early last week, each was only able to complete one or two masks in an hour, but by Friday, April 17th the sewing team was able to complete three or four masks each hour, testing new ways of working and figuring out how to improve their skills and speed to get the masks made more efficiently. From Woody-Pumford, “We are excited to see their growth and be able to help do our small part for the community.”
And now you can help! By purchasing a face mask through their Buy One Give One program, for each mask a designer sells, they will donate one mask to their health care partners. Each designer will receive 80% of the sale amount, and 20% will be donated to the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum to help support their continued efforts. If you would like to take part in the Mask Maker Challenge project, donate to their cause, or just learn more about their great work, click here.