RICHMOND, Va. -- Volunteers are busy behind the scenes doing their part to make sure essential workers have masks to safely continue their jobs.
Kelly Grezch Henriquez formed a social media group called Masks 4 Retail RVA. So far, Henriquez and dozens of volunteers have made more than 1,600 masks for frontline workers at grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants.
She said she started the effort after seeing her social media inundated with stories from frontline workers who could not get PPE. She turned to Facebook and other social media platforms to ask people for fabric donations and got to work making masks.
Requests started pouring in from workers all over the area. Henriquez said many of the workers wanted to stay anonymous, but reported they didn’t feel like their employers were doing enough to get them PPE.
Henriquez said the group, which has now grown to more than 200 people, got called on from workers in outlying rural areas of Virginia who see the work being done in Richmond.
Their group then started an effort to help those rural workers too.
“We recently started this thing called the Rural Workers Fund where we will send masks to workers in rural areas of Virginia. So far, we have sent some to Culpeper. There’s a lack of resources in the area and the immigrant population in those marginalized communities really aren’t getting what they need right now,” Henriquez said.
The group is hoping the community will donate materials so they can get as many masks into the hands of rural workers as they can. She said monetary donations would be helpful so their group can pay for shipping to get the PPE to those outlying communities.
There are several ways for the community to get in contact with the group. Henriquez said those needing masks or wanting to donate material and monetary contributions can reach them on their hotline at 804-372-8194. You can also email them at Masks4essentialRVA@gmail.com.
On social media, find out more on theirMasks 4 Retail RVA Facebook page. Group organizers will make arrangements to pick up and drop off donations. They welcome more volunteers to make the masks so they can keep fulfilling the orders.
“Currently we are filling a request for Habitat for Humanity for 200 masks. We’ve done a lot of nonprofits, grocery stores and we have even done masks for some government agencies. We’ve helped pharmacy workers, housekeeping folks, landscapers, food service workers. We have provided masks for a lot of different people,” Henriquez said.
She said she was grateful for the help that’s coming in from the community and hopes to help as many front line essential retail workers as possible.
Learn more about the people and places that make Richmond restaurants great. Listen to "Eat It, Virginia!"
Virginia Together: The Rebound Richmond campaign is here to help. Find information on who is hiring, investigations into unemployment payment issues, financial advice on making ends meet, and mental health advice on managing the pressures. These stories will be featured often on CBS 6 News and can be found by clicking this link.