Windham Mask Squad



   ” I started this initiative solo and has now become a big effort with help from many families”

    We are making stitched fabric masks. The entire town has come together to make masks primarily for the homeless and children’s homes within NH and MA and low-income senior housing in MA. Even supporting medical professionals who are dealing directly with COVID patients, first responders, and also helping families with other illnesses who need protection from one another.

    Our masks have a slot so that additional protection can be inserted.

    We also started making mask extenders a couple of weeks ago – delivering these to first responders who are having to wear masks for upto 12 hours a day to reduce ear chafing. 

    I wanted to help in some way and not waste the time in lockdown so I learned that people were making masks and decided to give it a go. Before I knew it within 5 days, I had made 100 (with help of my daughter) and then talk to friends and family to join the cause.

    Many families have gotten involved! A lot of them are Indian families – all in Windham NH (two in Methuen, MA, one in Andover, MA, one in Braintree, MA and one in Dunstable, MA). Many, many other Windham families have come together selflessly too to help in many ways such as donating fabric, running to stores to get supplies, cutting fabrics, donations, and so much more! 

    Ladies came forward and said they knew how to stitch but didn’t have a machine. Others said they had a machine but didn’t know how to stitch or didn’t have the time. I connected them all and passed machines between them.

    All supplies are provided from my home and all masks are delivered to my home and then distributed onwards.

    There are 11 families involved in the stitching aspect. This is a community force – Moms/Dads and kids alike, are coming together to learn how to use a sewing machine – all driven by wanting to help those vulnerable that tend to be forgotten. It’s a huge assembly line throughout Windham! 

    Some of the women whose families are involved in this initiative are Dipti Sheth, Meenakshi Sharma, Radhika Patel, Nitu Patel, Darshna Patel, Jalpa Patel, Suma Aithal, Bharvi Patel, Hiral Patel, Dimple Patel, Lina Patel, Ami Patel, Purvi Patel, May Wan, Anu Patel and Meena Apte along with my own family. 

We have Windham high school kids (who need community service hours in order to graduate) who are running around Windham delivering and picking up supplies/completed masks and also helping to cut fabric. Windham High School allowed me to award community service hours to these wonderful kids! These high schoolers are also the ones doing the deliveries to the organizations we are supporting. We have made sure everything is managed in a safe way whilst maintaining social distancing. All packages are left outside the homes and deliveries to organizations are made outside the building. The Windham Mask Squad has made 2,000 masks with the help of the children of Windham, NH in just 5 weeks!  

The proudest thing about all this is that the kids are eagerly supporting their parent’s initiative! Every kid is selflessly dedicating their free “quarantine” time to help this cause! Each learning new skills in the process! I had calls and messages from so many parents wanting to help and also get their families involved. So many families are also very generously contributing with donations when required! 

We are Windham Proud and in this pandemic, we, the Windham Mask Squad will continue to “Mask Up” as many people as we can!

–Jagruti Patel