From the beginning of the pandemic, residents of the Big Island’s Hamakua District have been determined to help protect their community from COVID-19. Paauilo Mauka residents Jami Sales, Marlene Simpson, and their husbands started making masks for the Hamakua Health Center after learning there could be a shortage of personal protective equipment for local medical personnel. Their original mask project goal was to make and distribute 500 masks.
The project quickly expanded, with 82 women and men joining their effort to cut, sew and distribute 17,751 hand-sewn masks within 10 weeks. Initially, they donated these masks to North Hawaii Community Hospital and other Hilo medical offices, then, later, to the Hilo Medical Center, postal workers along the Hamakua Coast, and to the Oncology Clinic. With the addition of another 12,000 donated disposable masks, they gave away nearly 30,000 masks!
Besides the volunteer mask-makers, other Big Islanders contributed materials and funds for the project. There was therapeutic value for all those who worked on the project, but—more importantly—the donated masks may be helping preserve the health and save the lives of our local medical professionals, front line workers, and neighbors.
For more information about the project, please visit BigIslandMasks.com.
Jami Sales, center, was inspired to organize the Big Island Mask hui
Pictured here: Nancy Bradwell and Suzanne Carpenter
Karen Clarkson and her husband Joe are Hamakua Coast residents who supported the Big Island Masks project. For more information, contact Karen at 808-936-3862 or karenclarkson.clarkhawaii.com.