Here's a way to stay entertained and help out at the same time.

By Andrea Romano
Updated April 08, 2020

Healthcare workers and people who are the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic are definitely the ones in dire need of protective gear like medical masks — so how can regular people help?

It is definitely not recommended to stock up on medical supplies that hospitals need, even if they are to distribute. However, there is an alternative: Try making a DIY mask at home to give to hospitals in need.

Of course, not everyone has fabric and thread lying around. That’s why Joann Fabrics is stepping in to distribute homemade mask-making kits for free to anyone who wants to help, according to Insider. Joann Fabrics is just one of the many companies to step up and help in this time of crisis, including CoverGirl and local New York City distilleries, which pledged to make hand sanitizer to combat the outbreak.

The kits include fabric, elastic and other needed materials, and customers can make masks to donate to hospitals that are low on PPE (personal protective equipment) supplies. The craft supply company is also working with hospitals in order to send them materials that they need including fabric, elastic and clear vinyl, Insider reported.

MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP via Getty Images

And if you need a little instruction, Joann Fabrics stores are also setting up classrooms with sewing machines inside their stores for people who need some guidance and a machine to complete their masks. Even though going to a fabric store may conflict with some social distancing measures, Insider reported that these classrooms are compliant with the CDC’s recommendation to limit exposure.

If you do happen to have a sewing machine at home, you can also access an online tutorial for making the masks. And, this tutorial is also good for anyone who would like to make their own masks (though they’ll have to supply the fabric themselves).

Just a disclaimer: A homemade mask is not considered true PPE, and will not be quite as effective as using a medical grade, disposable mask. However, it does still beat leaving your nose and mouth exposed. The CDC recommends all masks should cover the entire front (including below the chin) and sides of the face.

In order to get a mask-making kit, customers can pick them up at their nearest, open Joann Fabric store, and also drop it off there once a mask is complete.

For more information about making masks and finding a local Joann Fabrics store, visit the company’s website.

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