Face masks have taken center stage in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Many have responded to the call to help provide personal protective equipment for first responders, doctors and nurses by either donating medical-grade masks or making DIY versions for them to use.
However, despite being extremely helpful, the medical-grade masks aren’t exactly the most comfortable things to wear for hours at a time. That’s where Hayley Alden comes in.
The young woman from New York heard about nurses struggling with sores and scratches behind their ears from prolonged mask use. Along with her boyfriend, Colt, and his mother, Colleen, Alden decided to make headbands that would make the masks more comfortable by keeping the elastic bands off the wearer’s ears.
Based on an idea she’d seen elsewhere, Alden’s team took an elastic headband and sewed two buttons on it: one resting well behind where each ear would be. The button are used to hold back the elastic bands, keeping them tight but off the ear.
After coming up with the right measurements for where the buttons should go, the team quickly made about 20 of them to give to local healthcare workers. Then, Alden decided to spread the word on social media to take more orders and inspire others to make the same things themselves.
On April 4, she published a Facebook post with the clever headbands and an offer to make more for healthcare workers and provide them at no cost.
Along with each headband, Alden’s team tucked in notes of encouragement for the hospital workers who would use them. It didn’t take long for orders to come pouring in. Within two days, more than 300 orders were completed. Now, with more than 2,500 orders placed, the team has had to put a temporary hold on new ones just to catch up.
Family, neighbors and community members in Victor, New York have come together to help fill the orders as quickly as possible by helping sew the headbands and donating materials like buttons.
“We are overwhelmed with gratitude,” Alden posted on Facebook in an update on April 8. “When Colleen O’Brien Salsburg and I started this for our friends and family, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into … We will continue to help in any way we can as long as we have the funding … The love and support we have received over the last few days is absolutely incredible.”
If you’d like to donate materials to Alden’s cause, you can reach out to her on Facebook. If you’d like to donate money to her efforts, you can reach her on Venmo.