East Toronto community doing its part to sew fabric masks for local health care workers, residents

This little library in the Beach is now helping to distribute fabric masks to the community.


In an effort to help contain the spread of COVID-19, groups of east-end sewists are banding together to deliver hundreds of homemade fabric masks to Michael Garron Hospital (MGH), personal support workers and their local neighbours.

Late last month, Michael Garron Hospital Foundation put out the call on Twitter asking area sewists to supply them with 1000 masks a week to hand out to the broader community and hospital visitors.

Tammy Coutu and Chris Roberts are part of a team of five sewers in the community. On Easter Sunday, the group delivered around 125 masks to VHA Home HealthCare, a not-for-profit, charitable organization that offers 24/7 health care and support services to people of all ages and cultural backgrounds.

“There have been so many generous donations of fabric and materials” for the group project, said Roberts.

To distribute masks to her community, Coutu has replaced the books from the Little Free Library box on Fernwood Park Avenue with a few dozen masks for her neighbours to take.

“They are not fancy, and I am definitely not a seamstress, but the pattern was recommended by MGH to help control the spread of COVID-19,” Coutu said in group email to her neighbours.

The www.mghf.ca/mgh1000masks website says it wants to see “all east enders wearing a fabric mask when they need to be within six feet of other people, especially vulnerable populations and the elderly.”

The website provides drop-off information and a simple pattern to follow to make a two-ply fabric mask. Washing the masks after use with hot water and laundry detergent is a must, and Coutu stresses washing her masks before wearing them for the first time, too.

The group plans to continue to deliver more masks in the future. And, since the first batch was snapped up from her little library box in a matter of hours, Coutu restocked it with a new release of masks.

“I’m calling these The Easter Collection,” she said.

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