Every day we are reminded that COVID-19 cases are still on the rise, so WORK+SHELTER, Chicago Fair Trade, and The Soondra Foundation have joined forces to bring masks to those struggling to access them. To aid in this effort, we have created the fundraising campaign, Masks Without Borders.

Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, masks have been a crucial component in staying safe + healthy, but the unfortunate truth is that not everyone can afford them. We are seeing this not only in Chicago, but also in other parts of the world.

The masks that are “affordable” are generally not reusable, and are made of a few layers of different types of plastic, called polypropylene. These masks are almost impossible to recycle and end up adding to an already vast amount of single-use plastic waste on our planet.

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We have come together to find a solution to these problems– we will be distributing 10,000 reusable cloth masks throughout both Chicago + India. The masks are made out of eco-friendly materials, including organic cotton and fabric scraps left over from other items in production.

This way, not only are we helping to keep the population safe from the pandemic, but also helping to improve the health of our planet by keeping plastic waste & fabric scraps out of landfills.

There is some urgency with getting this campaign off the ground as we race to contain and combat COVID-19. We’d like to start making and distributing these masks as soon as possible, and we need your support in this effort.

W+S  Chief Happiness Officer Kavita distributing our reusable cloth masks in Delhi.

We’re raising $50,000 in order to produce and distribute these masks. As a group, we are uniquely placed to make this happen. WORK+SHELTER employs women in need and teaches them how to sew. Women regularly come to our factory looking for work, and recently we’ve had to turn a number away. Producing these masks will create more work and in turn, allow us to employ these women.

The Soondra Foundation works with people in India with compromised health, including children, who especially need masks to go back to work and school safely. The Soondra Foundation will be distributing these masks to some of the neediest folks across India.

Katherine Bissel-Cordova of Chicago Fair Trade and friend Carly Visk model the organic cotton face masks.

Chicago Fair Trade has relationships with non-profits across Chicago including the Night Ministry, the Center on Halstead, the YMCA, and many others. CFT will be distributing these masks to the most vulnerable populations right here in Chicago.

As a thank you for donating, we have some wonderful rewards for you (including an organic cotton face mask), which can be found on our Fundly page. If you want to get a mask in person head to the Chicago Fair Trade pop-up now through December 23rd.