(WRIC) — The national retail chain Jo-Ann Fabrics has crafted a way to help locals and frontline workers as the coronavirus pandemic worsens.

Doug Andrews

The crafting business is teaching others how to make medical face masks for personal use or to help medical personnel. Doug Andrews, a store manager at Jo-Ann Fabrics, says the virus has impacted all businesses, including the arts and craft industry.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Andrews said, telling 8News that the world is living in a strange time.

As many continue to find innovative ways to protect their health amid coronavirus fears, cloth, elastic and thread are becoming a temporary solution. The combination gives locals the opportunity to make a “Do-It-Yourself” medical mask kit.

“It’s very challenging but it’s very inspiring,” Andrews said. “Our customers are above and beyond creative and when something like this hits, they just put it in gear.”

In a video posted to YouTube Monday, Jo-Ann Fabrics and Craft stores offer a step-by-step tutorial of how to make a face mask:

Andrews told 8News that those interested in building a face mask for others can bring it back to the store upon completion. Jo-Ann Fabrics will then donate the masks to local hospitals and first responders.

The move drew praise from officials with the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, applauding those who want to help.


Julian Walker, vice president of communications for the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, says the masks may not be medical grade, but the gesture is appreciated. Each provider will determine whether or not the mask meets their own standards.

Julian Walker

“There are many Good Samaritans who want to help out during these unprecedented times where we are all facing this public health risk,” Walker told 8News. “We’re certainly not discouraging that idea, but our primary focus at this point is to try to tap inventory for supply and resources of medical-grade equipment.”

Anyone interested in crafting face masks can pick up supplies at any Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts location through their curbside services.

“Yesterday they were lined up at the curb waiting for masks,” Andrews said. “We couldn’t make them fast enough.”