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FIT alumni volunteer to make PPE in response to Covid-19

By Aileen Yu

Apr 9, 2020


As New York City continues to fight Covid-19, the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo officially pleaded to businesses last month to pitch in as there is a critical need for PPE (personal protective equipment). In response, Fashion Institute of Technology’s alumni, faculty and students have united together to make protective masks and PPE for healthcare professionals and essential workers.

By launching a nationwide volunteer network to easy-to-follow instructions for creating masks, the FIT community and alumni have drawn on its resources and knowledge to offer help to New York and beyond as the country continues to battle the coronavirus. Volunteers from the FIT alumni network and faculty alike are joining efforts to produce hospital-grade masks for frontline workers, as well as protective fabric masks for staff at essential businesses and retailers.

Sew4Lives USA

FIT alumni from Fashion Design ’07, Caroline Berti and Karen Sabag, have launched the New York State chapter of Sew4Lives USA, a national network of volunteers organized to sew hospital-grade masks, initially for St. Joseph’s Health in Syracuse, St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, Glen Cove Hospital and St. Francis Hospital in Long Island, Staten Island University Hospital, and Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan.

In addition, under the direction of the two graduate fashion students, friends of FIT and SUNY (The State University of New York) have already joined the program, established teams in multiple regions across New York, and are also supporting national groups in more than 20 states. Now, there are close to 100 volunteers on board from coast to coast. To date, nearly 2,500 masks have been made, and approximately 1,500 have been delivered to frontline and essential workers nationwide.

Caroline Berti shared in an interview published on FIT’s website, “We’re all in quarantine and having no physical contact and yet in many ways, this is the most contact we’ve had with anyone. We’re all now connected to this mission, while before we were working on our own brands or companies, so this whole thing has brought us together. This has given us a sense of purpose that some of us have never had before. It’s very overwhelming.”

How to help

Anyone with a sewing machine and cotton material can create this mask and help at the local level. Easy-to-follow instructions, created by Joan Endres, FIT adjunct instructor, Fashion Design can be found on FIT’s official website.

Photos: screenshot of FIT’s website, courtesy of FIT