Inspired by Social Media, Charlestown Volunteers Sew Masks for the Vulnerable

The volunteers have sewn more than 300 masks for assisted living facilities, exceeding their goal.

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When Charlestown resident Amanda Zettel heard a local assisted living facility was in need of face masks, she jumped into action. 

Zettel, president of the Charlestown Preservation Society, dusted off her sewing machine and put out a call to action on social media. She joined others in spreading the word online to see how they could help.

The response was overwhelming. Within days, the masks were rolling in. 

“I think we have 30 volunteers," Zettel told NBC10 Boston. "We call them seamsters because it is a combination of men and women. They are all different ages and have different sewing experience.  

"We have already made about 300 masks, which is one per resident and staff at four of our assisted living buildings in Charlestown.”

Their work comes as local and federal officials urge people to practice social distancing and to wear protective masks when they go outside.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh issued new guidance Sunday for residents as the city battles the coronavirus.

She said volunteers have gotten creative with materials, using dinner napkins and even cutting up old bed linens -- and they aren't stopping there.

As long as they have fabric, she said, they’ll keep sewing and are even handing masks out to people on the street. They have harnessed technology to help their efforts, using video tutorials to explain how to sew the masks, coming together on Zoom conference calls and using FaceTime to answer seamsters’ questions 

“This probably wouldn’t have been possible ten years ago,” Zettel said.

One of the places to benefit from the mask donations is the Kennedy Center, where the programs include a grab-and-go meal site for families in need and a home-care program. These masks will now help protect the workers there providing critical help.

Crystal Galvin, the Director of Community Services at the center, says the helpers need help, too. 

She says there are about 80 to 100 children and families coming daily for food Monday through Friday and the home care staff are working in the community seven days a week. Having the masks will help keep workers at the center safe so they can keep providing these important service to those who need them. 

If you'd like to learn more about their efforts or how to request a mask, visit the 02129 Neighbor Alliance or email

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