Sew your colors

All of Utah’s institutions of higher education are coming together to support ProjectProtect, a grassroots initiative that has a goal of producing 5 million medical-grade masks to address the national shortage of personal protective equipment.

The collaborative effort between University of Utah Health, Intermountain Healthcare, Latter-day Saint Charities, several Utah nonprofits and tens of thousands of volunteer sewers across the state has already produced over 3 million masks to protect frontline health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, universities, colleges and technical institutes are rallying together to take the project across the finish line. They are launching a Sew Your True Colors campaign, asking their campus communities to sew masks using thread in the color of their institution. When frontline caregivers use these masks, they will know that Utah’s higher education community supports them.

“I appreciate the many volunteers who have already joined in this collective effort to support our health care workers,” said University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins. “This project is one that will bring out the best in our campus community, showcasing our compassion, caring, collaboration and public service. Go, Utah!”

Volunteers can sign up starting today online at projectprotect.health and then pick up their kits of 100 masks at one of six donation sites spanning from Harrisville to St. George. The kits contain all of the materials needed except for the thread. Sewing volunteers are encouraged, but not required, to use thread in their school color and sew the school spirit into the mask. Masks will be returned on Saturday, May 30, at the same location as pickup.

School mascots will be at the different drop-off sites to encourage volunteers to register again and Sew Your True Colors.

Volunteers will need a sewing machine, thread, scissors and pins, but they do not need a high level of sewing skills to produce these masks. Detailed instructions will be provided. Each kit will include 100 masks and, depending on the sewer’s level of experience, each mask should take five to 10 minutes to sew, for a total of 10 to 15 hours of sewing time over 11 days. Many volunteers have engaged their entire family to pin, cut and sew. Others have divided the 100 masks between neighbors, families and friends.

“I am overjoyed to see all higher education institutions in Utah coming together to support our medical workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, including some of our very own alumni, in this time of great need,” said Harris H. Simmons, chair of the Utah System of Higher Education’s Board of Regents. “By working together, we can reach the goal of producing 5 million medical-grade pieces of PPE through this meaningful effort.”