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Bay Area volunteers fix masks for those in need during pandemic

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — Volunteers are fixing up expired masks to give to those in need.

80,000 expired N95 masks were sitting at UCSF — unable to be used — mainly because of the straps needing replacement.

A physician at the hospital teamed up with an engineer and together they created “Scrappy Strappers” — a volunteer organization that is now well on its way to donate the masks around the Bay Area and beyond.

“The problem was with the expired masks, the elastic, absolutely gives way so we downgraded the masks to be non-medical masks,” Dr. Aenor Sawyer said. “Our feeling was if we can get a mask to safely stay on a person’s face reliably, this mask will be very useful in a community setting.”

Boxes and boxes of expired N95 masks sitting at UCSF are now being fixed up by volunteers across the Bay Area and given to those in need.

On Friday — volunteers were working hard outside a Danville church.

“I am really happy I could help people who are less fortunate with things we need right now like a mask during this hard season,” Natalie Shpherd and Joelle Moon said.

Volunteers are all wearing gloves as they add new elastic bands to expired N95 masks. They’ve already refurbished 40,000 masks and they have another 40,000 to go.

The 80,000 expired masks — all have a red X over its original label now — notifying the person who will soon wear the mask that it is no longer a certified N95.

Volunteers are tying knots at the end of the new elastic band to hold them in place.

A UCSF physician and an engineer are heading the project and both say they love that people will now have access to them who otherwise may have had to go without.

“It feels good to see it scaling the plan and the vision were exciting but there’s nothing like seeing the masks go into the hands of someone who really needs it and can’t get it,” Dr. Sawyer said.

“Super gratifying and it’s just great to have something to focus energy into and try to make a difference with everything going on in the world right now,” Toby Ricco said.

If you’d like to help refurbish the masks, click here to register to volunteer.

A group is meeting at the community Presbyerian Church on El Pintado in Danville on Saturday.

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