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Pima donates masks, gloves to help fight COVID-19

April 15, 2020

Tucson, AZ – Pima Community College students, instructors and staff are finding ways to help ease access to important personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 7, Pima donated 400 N95 masks and 220 boxes of gloves (approximately 22,000 gloves) to Pima County. County officials will distribute the items, collected from across the College, to medical professionals in need. N95 masks, which protect against the Novel Coronavirus, are in short supply due to the pandemic.

In addition, approximately 50 Pima Fashion Design and Clothing Department students and some instructors, are producing masks for healthcare professionals and the public to use to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“I thank our students, program deans and Facilities Department employees for ensuring these donations,” says Chancellor Lee Lambert. “I am pleased Pima can play a pivotal role in supporting our community.”

The mask-sewing project developed quickly after a local hospital nurse asked friend Savannah Franco, a Fashion Design and Clothing student and West Campus Fashion Club President, to make her a durable, washable cover for her N95 mask. A cover extends the life of an N95 mask. What can be an N95 mask cover for medical use can be a “social distancing” mask for others.

The students and instructors are making the masks upon request to donate to local charities, including Community Food Bank of Tucson and Southern Arizona, to sell to the public through the Pima Foundation, and through a small business, started by former Pima student and PalmFree™ Sunwear founder Pat Ferrer, to help recently out-of-work students.

Nancy Spaulding, head of the Fashion Design and Clothing Department, said the mask sewing project has become part of some Fashion Design and Clothing classes in Pima’s new virtual environment.

“We had to adapt very quickly. Everyone is working hard and doing well despite the circumstances and logistic challenges in getting materials to students with everyone staying safe,” says Spaulding.

Local businesses also are supporting the project as well as the program as a whole. JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores has donated fabric and students’ and instructors’ are contributing from their personal supplies. Plus, thanks to Mayra Esquivel, a Fashion Design and Clothing graduate and Palo Verde Cleaners manager, the business is sanitizing the masks after they are completed, before they are given to local charities. Plus, students who don’t have a sewing machine at home and relied on machines in the program’s lab can complete their studies on ones provided by Cathey’s Sewing and Vacuum.

More donations from the College are possible. Pima, which is a significant educator of the local healthcare workforce, is assessing the need to donate ventilators that are used in its healthcare program labs in order to be prepared to do so, if called upon.


Libby Howell, APR, Executive Director
Media, Government and Community Relations
Office (520) 206-4778, Cell (520) 549-9093, [email protected]

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