April 19, 2020
Homemade protective masks donated this weekend for union members

Homemade protective masks have been donated this weekend to UFCW Local 247 members at some stores in Metro Vancouver, and the union is grateful to Erin Chapple of Burnaby (#makemasks) for her efforts.

Erin wrote to Dan Goodman, Secretary Treasurer of UFCW Local 247, saying:

“I am so impressed with the staff at my local grocery store who put themselves at risk every day. I feel alarmed by the number of grocery store employees I still see not wearing masks. Since they see so many people in a day I worry about their health. Obviously medical grade masks are scarce right now but I was wondering if there is any interest in homemade masks. There are many of us making them that want to help our local communities so please let me know if you are interested.”

Erin had a total of 43 homemade masks ready to go, and they were distributed this weekend to members working at Safeway’s Kensington & Hastings store in Burnaby, as well as the Safeway at Westview Shopping Centre in North Vancouver.

Erin notes these masks have a pocket for additional filtration material that can be added by the wearer. As well, these masks have a sleeve for holding wire that can be shaped around the nose for a better fit. While the homemade masks do not come with nose wires, they can be made from pipe cleaners, twist ties, or wire.

Dan Goodman says, “many employers were only able to begin offering protective masks to employees over the last week, as they were caught up in the initial shortage of medical-grade masks.”

“We are so appreciative of what Erin is doing,” says Goodman, “and we know these shows of support mean a lot for the members on the front lines of this crisis.” 

“Erin is 100% correct – our members working every day in grocery stores are unsung heroes during this crisis,” says Goodman, “and their safety is a huge concern for us.”

Goodman notes that, “health authorities have begun recommending that people wear homemade masks, and even though their effectiveness is not that of an N-95 mask, if you are unable to obtain medical grade masks, they are better than nothing.” (SEE NOTE BELOW)


Hand-sewn masks are not sterile! 

The homemade masks were made by a nation-wide collective of volunteers. We have requested that all materials be freshly washed, and that makers practice good flu hygiene during production. Recipients should sterilize masks using autoclaves or other procedures to meet your organization’s use standards.

Please note that homemade masks are included by the CDC in their Crisis Capacity Strategies section, but are not a suitable substitute for N95 masks or other medical grade PPE.

Per the CDC: “In settings where facemasks are not available, HCP might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort. However, homemade masks are not considered PPE, since their capability to protect HCP is unknown. Caution should be exercised when considering this option.”

“Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.”


  1. Front of mask is contaminated! Do not touch. Only touch ear loops/bands.
  2. Hold ear loops or band, remove away from face.
  3. Wash hands after removal
  4. Remove filter. Launder mask in hot water.

makemasks.org   #makemasks