Little project, big impact


Lifelong Baltimorean and retired teacher Claire Ritterhoff is no stranger to putting her sewing skills to use for others.

As a member of Baltimore’s Team for Days for Girls, she’s spent time making reusable menstrual products for years. But when COVID-19 struck, Claire found a new use for her needle and thread. The group decided to shift to making cloth face coverings for donation, including to Health Care for the Homeless.

Like most of us, her normal activities have been moved to virtual platforms or cancelled. But making masks has helped her stay connected to her sewing community and even interact with new communities like Health Care for the Homeless.

“I felt isolated and powerless during the early weeks,” Claire says. “I live alone and I can’t volunteer in person, but I can use my sewing skills to make masks to keep friends, relatives and even people I'll never meet safe. I enjoy doing it. It’s a nice little project.”

She’s already made a huge impact. In addition to making masks, she’s also mobilizing her own community. “I’ve connected others looking to donate masks to Health Care for the Homeless and I’ve collected some other masks from my neighbors,” she says. “Sometimes it’s only six, but it adds up.”

It certainly does. Since April, Claire has created, collected and donated over 300 masks. Thanks to Claire and many others, we distributed over 10,000 cloth masks in 2020, meaning that thousands of people who have come through our doors received a mask that will keep them safe and healthy.  

Claire is longing to get back to meeting with her friends at Days for Girls. But in the meantime, she plans to keep making masks using her favorite patterns: flamingos, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and crabs. As she puts it, “Everyone should have access to what they need to stay safe. This is something we can do to help. It’s important work.”

Feeling inspired? You can help, too! Email to donate masks.

Here are some tips from a pro (Meghan Curran, who donated 65 masks) to help you get started:

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