COVID-19 Mask Tips, Mask-making & Mask Donations

Published: April 8, 2020

Hello MAO friends, clients, and supporters!

We hope everyone is staying safe and well.  As you know, the CDC has recommended everyone wear non-medical face masks in public. As you can surmise, N95 masks and surgical masks need to be saved for our front line medical and care providers and they continue to be challenging to come by; however, with your support we can help them and those we care for.

There is a lot of information being shared about home-made, non-medical masks. This provides a great opportunity to help us help our clients. In addition to crafty covers for our limited official PPE (personal protective equipment) for providers, we need help finding homemade masks for our clients and patients to use in public as well.  If you sew, or if you know of groups who are donating homemade masks, please keep MAO and our patients in mind. 

If you are in a position to donate, please call (800) 510-4704 before visiting so we can help you safely navigate.

Continue Practicing Social Distancing


Face masks DO NOT make up for other COVID-19 health precautions. Practicing social distancing (staying 6 feet away from each other), not touching our/your faces, and washing hands frequently are still our best forms of defense. Keep in mind, people infected with COVID-19 can transmit the virus before they show any symptoms. So, it is time for “universal” precautions! You are encouraged to assume anyone could have the virus whether they feel sick or not.

Tips for wearing masks:  

  • Wash your hands before putting on and taking off masks.
  • Put masks on and off using the straps; try not to touch the front or back of the mask to prevent contaminating the breathing area.  
  • Use only your own mask; DO NOT SHARE MASKS! 
  • After wearing a cloth mask, wash it with soap and water, or launder it before reusing.
  • Don’t fidget with the mask while wearing it.

Tips on materials to make masks:

  • One of the best fabrics to use is that from reusable grocery store bags (the cloth ones, not plastic bags). They are made of non-woven polypropylene, which blocks particles well. They cannot be bleached; however, they can be washed with detergent.  
  • The next best options are tightly woven fabrics like denim or twill.  Loosely woven fabrics like t-shirts are not as protective, but, again, anything is better than nothing.  
  • Some people sew in a metal piece to help close over the nose, like surgical masks have. Pipe cleaners, bread bag twists, and paper clips can be used. Just make sure these items are clean to start with.  
  • Face masks can be made with ties, which can be made of fabric or flat shoe laces, or elastic – if you can’t find elastic, hair bands work. 
  • Some more complicated masks have pouches for respirator filters that hospitals have, or use a piece of vacuum cleaner bag filters which are very protective (but harder to breathe through).
  • There are also no-sew mask instructions made from bandannas as demonstrated by the U.S. Surgeon General online. These are best for home, personal use.

While you cover your face, you can also make a fashion statement!

Thank you to the generous community members who have responded thus far to MAO’s request for donations of non-medical masks for the people in our care!

(List may not be inclusive. Alphabetically as of Oct. 22, 2020)

Bethel Baptist Church, Kelly McCart
Sarah Churchman
Patricia Crowley
Melinda Evans
Lee Farrow
Donnie Green
Rick Harris
Darlene Kelly
Shirley Krothapalli
Lucie Lee Lanoux
Andrea Martin
Jack Polk
Pamela Portis
Pure Artistry Café
River Region Mask Makers
Robyn Rowan
Dianne Smith
Southeast AIDS Education Training Centers Program, Vanderbilt University
Betsy Sparks-Brewer
Mary Therese Sweeney
Trinity Presbyterian Church
Olivia White
Tonya Williams
And two anonymous donors.


MAO COVID-19 Masks for Clients Social Media
Click on image to download. Sample message copy below:

The clients @MAOofAlabama need masks. The CDC recommends everyone wear non-medical face masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Sew? Consider donating masks for MAO clients living w/HIV. Stich to save a life! Call 800-510-4704 to help. #covid19us #stich2savelives #facemasks
Click on image to download. Sample message copy below:

In addition to non-medical masks for clients, @MAOofAlabama needs donations of N95 masks & surgical masks for care providers. Keep them healthy. Help them keep people living w/HIV healthy. One pandemic cannot interrupt care for another. #covid19us #GetMePPE #stich2savelives #hiv