Local organization that made reusable menstrual products now making fabric face masks

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Ellie von Wellsheim holds a hand-sewn mask.

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- When the MoonCatcher Project could no longer deliver the reusable menstrual hygiene products it makes to girls in impoverished countries, Founder/Director Ellie von Wellsheim found another use for the fabric- face masks.

The MoonCatcher Project allows girls to continue going to school during their menstrual cycle, despite a lack of disposable menstrual products. The coronavirus pandemic has made the delivery of these hand-sewn menstrual products impossible.

Hospitals face probable personal protection equipment (PPE) shortages throughout the state, including N95 masks. A hand-sewn mask doesn’t provide the same protection against the coronavirus as an N95, but it can be used in the event no masks are available, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In settings where facemasks are not available, HCP might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort. However, homemade masks are not considered PPE, since their capability to protect HCP is unknown. Caution should be exercised when considering this option. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

von Wellsheim said the response she’s gotten from people wanting to volunteer has been nothing short of overwhelming. She currently has 100 volunteers and has had to put people who want to help on a waiting list. “I am so amazed at the kindness of people. I am so touched by this, so moved. It’s extraordinary,” she said.

von Wellsheim sews a mask at her home in Schenectady.

There are challenges von Wellsheim said she and her volunteers have to overcome. The MoonCatcher Project coordinates its efforts by holding events where large groups of volunteers are able to streamline the process of making the menstrual products but that can’t be done in this case. “It really slows production because we can’t get together,” she said.

von Wellsheim said in addition to delivering supplies and sending them in the mail, volunteers have been picking up supplies from her home.

The Foundation of St. Mary’s Healthcare is one local healthcare organization that will eventually be receiving the masks. Executive Director, Brigitta Giulianelli said the foundation is grateful for the future donation.

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