MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Since 2008, the international nonprofit Days for Girls has sewn and sent personal hygiene pads all around the world.

“The mission is to make washable, sustainable menstrual feminine hygiene products to help girls and women in developing countries,” New Hope chapter co-director Amy Charpentier said.

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Charpentier and neighbor Christina Schulte head up the local chapter that has produced some 14,000 of the kits in the past seven years.

“There’s about 1000 chapters around the world,” Charpentier said.

But two weeks ago their mission suddenly changed, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread and shortages of critical personal protection equipment for medical workers mounted. In particularly short supply are protective face masks.

“Days for Girls said, we’ve got a Mask for Millions hashtag and we want you to use your supplies and actually create masks for your own communities,” Schulte said.

So away they went, cutting, pleating and sewing the fabric swatches needed to a make the protective mask. In just the past two weeks, the two have single-handedly assembled more than 700 fabric masks.

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“It has a metal nose piece and a pocket to put your own filter,” Charpentier said.

The masks aren’t sufficient to be used alone for protection from the virus. Instead, they will be worn by doctors and nurses to cover and extend the life of the approved N95 medical masks. Still, the two are planning to sew assorted sizes that the general public can wear to help slow the spread of the outbreak.

“I think we’re getting to where we all will wear them,” Charpentier said.

For Schulte, her work sewing and assembling the colorful and attractive masks is a good way to stitch away fear.

“If making a mask that someone puts on lessens that fear, I’ll make sew a million,” she said.

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Their mission may have changed, but their care for others is only growing. For more information on Days for Girls or the mask production cause, click here.