By Kristin Boza
Remember the beginning of the pandemic? The question “what can I do to help?” permeated local Facebook groups. One group that emerged with the purpose of filling a need is Nice Chicks Making Masks. It began when one woman asked for fabric and elastic supply donations in the popular Beverly Free Box Facebook group. When she experienced some pushback, she declared, “Look, I’m just a nice chick with a sewing machine that wants to help people.” And soon, a movement that now includes approximately 100 “nice chicks” was born.
Lauren Skerrett, one of the founding members, said the group started early in the pandemic, before masks were widely known to be essential for everyone out in public. “People in the group said they were receiving requests from first responders asking for help with masks. Initially, we provided masks for free to first responders who were dealing with the pandemic without any PPE, and our masks were better than nothing,” she said.
Skerrett herself has made close to 2,000 masks since March, and she can complete about 10 masks in an hour. By the end of October, more than 10,000 masks have been donated to local police and fire departments, hospitals, the Maple Morgan Park Food Pantry, Mothers Against Senseless Killings, Mercy Home, Misericorida, the Free Store (hosted by 19th Ward Mutual Aid, Turpin Cares, and BAPA) and other organizations that aid underserved populations.
No money is accepted for the masks, and the Nice Chicks who are sewing use their own supplies with additional support from friends or the Beverly Free Box group. They make masks in four sizes: toddler, kid, teen/women, and men to ensure a good fit.
Skerrett makes sure to buy kid-friendly fabrics and other fashionable patterns. “This is one way to show that this mask is made with love; someone loves you and cares about you even if they don’t know who you are,” she said.
“This has been a shining light during the pandemic. The Nice Chicks are seriously some of the nicest people I have ever met. It’s really heartwarming to know that there are so many people in the neighborhood who want to help other people,” Skerrett said.