Three Thousand and Counting — Area Students Unite to Donate Masks During Pandemic

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, local students are leading the charge in the battle to slow the spread of the coronavirus and making a big difference in the community.

Established in March by Cactus Shadows High School junior Angelique Cort, the AZ Mask Project focuses on harnessing the energy of a corps of volunteers to mass produce masks and provide them at no charge to critical care workers and compromised populations in the Phoenix area.

“In March, my mom [Corinne Cort] and I started sewing masks on a small scale,” said Cort. “Soon afterward we were contacted by HonorHealth whose needs were much greater. Arizona State Senator Paul Boyer learned of our efforts and expressed a need for thousands of masks. This was clearly beyond our capability at the time, so I started looking into ways to scale up the operation dramatically.”

Her search for volunteers and donors led to a partnership with Cave Creek Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Debbi Burdick, who put the word out across the district.

“Over 70 volunteers answered the call, and the AZ Mask Project was born.”

The homemade, reusable cloth masks are delivered to front-line healthcare workers, emergency responders and community organizations throughout Greater Phoenix, including Banner Health, Cave Creek Unified School District, HonorHealth, Infinity Hospice Care, Mayo Clinic and Phoenix Children’s Hospital, among others.

Cort says that the Project has special meaning to her because her life goal is to become an emergency-room surgeon. She also says that they couldn’t have accomplished this feat without the Project’s dozens of volunteers.

“The heart and soul of our Project are our generous, community-spirited volunteers,” said Cort. “Spanning the range from students to retirees and drawing from every demographic, resilient and relentless, these selfless individuals daily contribute their time, their energy, and their goodwill to make our community a better, safer, healthier place.

“Regardless of whether they cut fabric, sew masks, make pickups and deliveries, maintain our Facebook page, donate materials, or perform any of a host of other services, they quietly make a difference every day.”

Each week, Cort creates and oversees a staged fabrication process that moves materials through multiple phases of production. She coordinates volunteers, works with donors and interfaces with beneficiary organizations. Jeffrey Filer, another Cactus Shadows junior and patrol leader in Boy Scout Troop 15, proposed and implemented a robust system that enlists three Boy Scout troops (Troops 15, 323 and 3323) to fulfill the logistical needs of the project.

Every week, Patrol Leader Filer’s Scouts deliver materials to volunteers across the Valley, move partially completed masks from cutters to the next production location, pick up finished masks and deliver finished masks to beneficiary organizations throughout the Phoenix area. Together, Cort and Filer have sustained an effort that donates hundreds of masks each week, most recently surpassing the 3,000-mask milestone.

And they are not done yet. AZ Mask Project says that it remains committed to maintaining and expanding its efforts as the need exists, and Cort says that the group is continually in search of new volunteers.

“Everyone is welcome into our Fellowship of the Mask. For those who don’t sew, we welcome your help cutting fabric. We will provide the material and support you need to get started. We provide certificates of community service hours for our student volunteers. If you are already involved in making and donating masks, we are eager to partner with you.”
Residents interested in getting involved may contact Cort by email: chancecort@me.com. The Project also has a Facebook group: search “AZ Mask Project.” |CST


Photos courtesy of AZ Mask Project

Comments

  1. I’m a huge mask maker too and would love to connect with Angelique.

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