Laura Seitz, KSL

Utah colleges and universities join effort to sew 5 million medical-grade masks

By Marjorie Cortez, KSL | Posted - May 13, 2020 at 8:33 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s public, private and nonprofit universities and colleges have launched a “Sew Your True Colors” campaign, asking their campus communities to sew medical-grade masks using thread in the color of their respective institutions.

The effort supports ProjectProtect, a grassroots initiative that has a goal of producing 5 million medical-grade masks to address the national shortage of personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thus far, volunteers have produced more than 3 million masks under the collaborative effort among University of Utah Health, Intermountain Healthcare, Latter-day Saint Charities and numerous Utah nonprofit organizations.

Harris H. Simmons, chairman of the Utah System of Higher Education Board of Regents, said in a statement that he is “overjoyed” that all Utah institutions of higher education are coming together to support front-line medical workers.

“By working together, we can reach the goal of producing 5 million medical-grade pieces of PPE (personal protective equipment) through this meaningful effort,” Simmons said.

Volunteers can sign up at ProjectProtect.health and then pick up kits of 100 masks at one of six donation sites from Harrisville, Weber County, to St. George.

The kits contain all of the materials needed except thread. Sewing volunteers are encouraged, but not required, to use thread in their school colors. Completed masks should be returned on May 30 at the same location they were picked up.

On Saturday, school mascots will be at drop-off sites to encourage volunteers to register again and sew more masks using the thread of their institutions.

Volunteers need a sewing machine, thread, scissors and pins, but they do not need a high level of sewing skills to produce the masks. Detailed instructions are provided. Depending on the sewer’s level of experience, each mask should take five to 10 minutes to complete.

Many volunteers have engaged family members to pin, cut and sew masks. Others have split mask-making materials among neighbors, families and friends so more people can participate and complete the task sooner.

Weber State University President Brad Mortensen said the university plays a key role in educating the state’s health professionals so WSU students are especially determined to help protect medical workers and others.

“I’m proud to ask our entire Weber State family to join together in this life-saving effort,” Mortensen said.

Westminster College is also asking its community to use purple thread to sew masks, so users will “know and feel our appreciation,” a college press release states.

“Supporting Project Protect is supporting the thousands of Westminster nursing alumni who are heroes in health care across Utah,” said Sheryl Steadman, dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences.

“Westminster nurses are leaders and contributors in the most critical areas of practice so we are grateful for all that is being done to protect them.”

LDS Business College President Bruce C. Kusch added: “It’s wonderful to see such a collaborative effort among our Utah-based institutions of higher learning.”

He encouraged the college’s students and alumni “to show their true colors as they contribute in supporting our health care professionals.”

Participating school include Brigham Young University, Dixie State University, Southern Utah University, University of Utah, Utah State University, Utah Valley University, Weber State University, Western Governors University, LDS Business College, Salt Lake Community College, Snow College, Westminster College, Bridgerland Technical College, Davis Technical College, Dixie Technical College, Mountainland Technical College, Ogden-Weber Technical College, Southwest Technical College, Tooele Technical College and Uintah Basin Technical College.

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