Tallahassee company DivvyUp creating mask kits for volunteers to sew

Published: Apr. 9, 2020 at 5:47 PM EDT
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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News

April 9, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- City Commissioners

; a local custom sock company is spearheading the creation of more than 25,000 masks, to be sewn by volunteer members of the community.

New CDC guidelines are now asking the general public to wear non-medical-grade, such as cloth, face masks. However, those can be difficult to come by, and City Commissioners chose to step in.

The masks will first go to City workers, but then be distributed to members of the public.

City Manager Reese Goad says the effort is similar to the City distributing sandbags before a major storm event.

"We distribute tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of sandbags to the public that need them and couldn't otherwise maybe get the sandbags at a local store," said Goad.

The funding comes from events that were supposed to happen in the month of April, such as Springtime Tallahassee, Word of South, and the Southern Shakespeare Festival.

Local startup DivvyUp is a custom sock company; they're seamlessly switching gears.

"Whatever you want on socks, that's DivvyUp. Usually. Now, we're a mask making company, or at least for the next few weeks," said co-founder Mitchell Nelson

Rather than bringing workers to a factory setting, leaders are taking a de-centralized approach, allowing volunteers to work from home and get paid for each mask they make.

Local entrepreneur Barbara Wescott is helping to organize community involvement; she first started with her Women Wednesdays group.

"So DivvyUp is going to be providing these packages, pre-cut, everything you need is going to be in that package, but we need sewers from the community," said Wescott. "It pays! It pays a dollar per mask, so it's not only an opportunity to help the community, it's an opportunity to make a little money."

The volunteers can pick up a pre-packaged kit at DivvyUp without getting out of their vehicles.

"All we're asking of people is to actually use their sewing machine at home to make and sew the final product," said Nelson.

DivvyUp is hoping for volunteers who can work about 20 hours per week, creating about 250 masks. Those workers will then return the masks to DivvyUp to be sanitized and packaged before distribution.

DivvyUp is working at cost.

"All of the City's budget that's going to this project is going to go to materials, logistics, in terms of the cutting and prepping of everything, or the Tallahassee community in the form of pay per mask," said Nelson.

The goal is to have 25,000 masks in the next two weeks.

"If we have the ability to help, we should at least give it a shot," said Nelson.

If you don't have a sewing machine but do want to be involved, there are a limited number available to borrow.

You can find more information