WINDSOR, ONT -- The Windsor-Essex Sewing Force (WESF), a grass roots volunteer group is creating thousands of homemade personal protective equipment (PPE) for local healthcare workers.

WESF has teamed up with WE-Spark Health Institute, a research partnership involving the University of Windsor, Windsor Regional Hospital, Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, and St. Clair College.

Since March, WESF has made over 12,000 facemasks and scrub caps for distribution to healthcare workers at Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, Windsor Regional Hospital, and long-term care homes across the region.

“Volunteers are the heart of our network. They are skilled, passionate, caring and above all, committed to donating homemade protective equipment free of charge for healthcare workers” says Kelly Mullen, one of the founding members.

“They come from a broad cross section of the community. Many volunteers are from vulnerable groups themselves: seniors, people with disabilities, undergoing treatment for major illnesses, and/or facing economic challenges. What’s common to all is their commitment to keeping frontline healthcare workers safe.”

WESF supports volunteers by providing sewing patterns, coordinating access to supplies, as well as providing transportation of goods when volunteers are unable to leave their homes.

“With demand continuing to grow, we were fortunate to partner with our local educational and healthcare institutions on a WE-SPARK Health Institute project to create a coordinated process while developing cutting edge research” says co-founding member, Rebecca Rudman.

“Our volunteers have been making huge personal investments in time and resources.”

WESF co-founder, Karren Harris says the group is looking for donations to help pay for supplies for its volunteers.

“Donations are really important to WESF because 100% of the proceeds will be going to materials, supplying our local sewists with the highest quality quilter’s cotton that we need to produce these masks for our community.”

Donations are being processed by the University of Windsor.