Jeanine Peralta, an admin of the 10,000 Masks project, hands a volunteer a bag of materials that will be made into masks. Credit: Jamie Araki/Canyons News.

A simple cough – that’s all it takes for the COVID-19 to spread. The coronavirus’ high rate of transmission heightens the risk for nurses, doctors and other medical staff to contract the respiratory illness.

For medical staff, personal protective equipment, or PPE, is their main defense against the virus. 

Photos of marks on Chinese medical staff’s faces have circulated across social media and news networks. Indents seen as they take off their PPE show how hard they are trying to protect themselves against the invisible demon of COVID-19. 

However, most of our local nurses go home without these battle marks. That is because United States hospitals are in a serious lack of PPE. 

Cindy Frith-Smith is a respiratory therapist in the Santa Clarita Valley. Between her long shifts trying to battle the virus on the front lines with her team, she has taken it upon herself to provide PPE to staff members. 

Frith-Smith has started the 10,000 Masks project, a project that could make a huge difference in our local hospitals and beyond. 

Credit: Cindy Frith-Smith

“I am personally affected by the shortage of protection equipment required to perform my job safely. I wanted to come up with a solution that would help me and my colleagues specifically with the mask shortage”

Frith-Smith said. “As medical workers we rely on the masks to prevent exposure that could be detrimental to our own health. The donation of masks will be provided to three local area hospitals who have agreed to receive them.”

Her mission, which she posed on Facebook, has already gained the backing on 350 community members. These members have donated materials and time to distribute, sew and obtain materials needed for the project. Businesses like Joann Fabrics and the Rye Canyon Supply Company have also aided in material needs.

One of these members Amy Crumb, an administrator of the group alongside Frith-Smith, said its not about just sewing and donating, it’s about communication to other members of the community.  

“We just need to get the word out. We are all volunteers asking for people to help. If they can take something to someone’s house for us or come to our house to pick something up, this allows the group to contact more people” Crumb said. 

Crumb has her own story with COVID-19. The virus gave her family a scare when her son fell ill. 

“Last Tuesday my son was tested for the Coronavirus. It took 10 days to get the results. 10 days of what I call hell” Crumb explained. “We finally got the results and they were negative. But it is very scary to think that this invisible virus is out there and you do not know where it is at.”

That same fear has spread throughout the nation, and is a reason why Frith-Smith is making these masks. 

“Working the frontlines during a very difficult time can be mentally and physically wearing. We are dealing with high emotions and the fears of getting sick ourselves” said Frith-Smith.  “If what we are doing to make 10,000 masks will help those caring for the sick feel a little less fearful and more protected then I have accomplished my mission.”

Credit: Amy Crumb

However, Frith-Smith is not stopping her generosity at hospitals. She wants to help other essential and at risk community members as well. 

“Once we distribute what is needed to the facilities we will offer the masks to local retirement homes, skilled nursing facilities, and doctor offices. We would also like to be able to distribute to supermarket employees and other public essential workers” said Frith-Smith. 

To help in the 10,000 Masks project, join their Facebook group, or reach out to Frith-Smith on Facebook. 

“I want to commend the hard work and the time my volunteers have contributed to my cause. I have met incredible people willing to help us reach our goal. Seeing so many acts of humanity has been so uplifting and inspiring during a time where people are struggling and facing a difficult time” concluded Frith-Smith. 

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