Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What’s been happening with donations to the Free Masketeers?
A. The Free Masketeers began in mid-March with a goal to provide much needed masks to local healthcare facilities, serving as a stop-gap provider until traditional suppliers could catch up with demand. However, healthcare providers’ need for essential personal protection equipment continues to grow and the Free Masketeers team has been flooded with mask requests from hospitals from across the Bay Area and beyond. The team has scaled up its procurement and production efforts and expanded its network of volunteers to meet this demand but more donations are needed to fund the Free Masketeers’ mission.
Q. Which healthcare facilities have received Free Masketeers’ masks?
A. To date nearly 900 cloth face masks have been distributed to hospitals throughout the Bay Area, a few of which are listed here:
John Muir Hospital
Kaiser Hospital (6 different locations)
Valley Care Ob-Gyn Clinic
Palo Alto Medical Foundation
Contra Costa County Hospital
San Ramon Regional Medical
Center, Danville Acute Care
San Joaquin General Hospital
Washington Hospital Fremont
O’Connor Hospital San Jose
San Luis Hospital Gilroy
We also have purchased and delivered KN95 masks and surgical masks to several local hospitals.
Q. Why was a second fundraising campaign needed?
A. There is still a shortage of face masks both locally and nationwide. Thanks to many generous donors, our first round of funding supported the production and delivery of 900 fabric face masks and the purchase of 4,000 KN95 (N95 equivalent) masks and 6,000 surgical masks from China. However, requests for both reusable and disposable masks continues to grow. Until the critical shortage of masks it met, the Free Masketeers will continue raise funds and supply masks to protect our healthcare heroes.
Q. Why supply masks to healthcare facilities?
A. Currently many healthcare heroes lack the personal protection equipment they need to safeguard their own health while treating their patients. Doctors, nurses and frontline caregivers both locally and around the world are contracting the virus and many have died. The Free Masketeers provides masks to protect our healthcare heroes so they can continue to protect us.
Q. How are the Free Masketeers Recruiting Volunteers?
A. Many citizens across the Bay Area were / are looking for ways to support local healthcare heroes. The Free Masketeers’ has consolidated the efforts of many of volunteers, matching people with resources and employing division of labor to achieve to economies of scale.
If you are looking to volunteer your time, please complete our Volunteer Registration form. The Free Masketeers welcomes all assistance.
Q. What kind of masks are The Free Masketeers producing?
A. The Free Masketeers’ management team met with hospital leadership and medical personnel to design a mask that everyone would find useful. The masks are made with 800 thread-count material, include a pocket filter and are re-useable and washable.
Q. What safeguards are in place to ensure donations to the Free Masketeers are used to provide masks to healthcare workers?
A. An operational oversight team authorizes each purchase and tracks the production and delivery of masks. Additionally, an external auditor assures an appropriate accounting of all funds.
Q. Who are the volunteers?
A. Free Masketeers’ volunteers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and include business and academic professionals, homemakers, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, citizens, immigrants, kids, senior citizens and just about everyone in-between. Volunteers are managing their household, teaching their kids, working full time from home, and contributing countless hours to help protect our healthcare heroes. Please see the Volunteer Registration page to join the Free Masketeers’ cause.
Q. Why aren’t the Free Masketeers volunteers using mask kits from Joann Fabrics?
The masks produced by The Free Masketeers teams are designed for doctors working directly with COVID-19 patients. As such, these masks must meet hospital-specified requirements. The Free Masketeers masks are made from 800 thread-count sheets that can withstand multiple washes and include a filter pocket. The free mask kits from Joann Fabrics do not meet these rigorous requirements.
Q. Why can’t hospitals buy their own masks?
A. Interviews with doctors and other health care personnel suggest hospitals are struggling to buy masks for their personnel due to a severe mask shortages, supply chain constraints and bureaucratic issues. There is a nation-wide press for more masks and production and distribution channels are trying to meet the need, but challenges in supplying masks to healthcare facilities remain. While websites like Alibaba and AliExpress are flooded with masks, logistical issues are delaying the delivery of masks to the US from China.
Q. How can I help?
A. If you are local to the East Bay, you can help the Free Masketeers sew fabric masks. Please see the Volunteer Registration webpage. For those outside the area, shelter-in-place limits the team’s ability to provide masks kits and pick up completed masks. However, The Free Masketeers welcome help in many ways:
Make a donation to fund the purchase of more masks and mask-making supplies.
Start your local chapter. The Free Masketeers website offers instructions on how to gather volunteers, start fundraising, source raw materials, sew masks to hospital specifications, find hospitals in need of masks, and source masks from external vendors.
Pick up a free kit from Joanne Fabrics. Although these masks do not meet the Free Masketeers’ hospital specifications for COVID-19 patient care, they can still be used in many other healthcare settings. Once complete these masks maybe returned to participating Joann Fabrics locations.