Amanda Scianna, who grew up in Knightsville, has lived in Pawtuxet Village for nearly four years. She enjoys the village’s pace and character, and how welcoming it is to pedestrian traffic.
“It’s a nice neighborhood,” she said. “People of course walk up and down the street. They want to see the water.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic has worn on, however, Scianna has found herself increasingly concerned over another neighborhood observation – the number of passers-by not wearing a mouth and nose covering designed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“I would get so mad and I would just scream from my window, ‘Wear a mask!’” she said during an interview Saturday. “So I was like, maybe I should literally make some masks.”
She has done just that through her Village Masks initiative, providing free masks – as well as information from the CDC and links to do-it-yourself mask-making tutorials – on a large board placed near the intersection of Narragansett Parkway and Spring Garden Street.
To date, Scianna has made and distributed nearly 100 masks, including roughly 50 over this past weekend.
“Not everyone’s a DIY person,” she said. “There’s clearly a need … It’s crazy to think that I’ve made that many.”
Scianna said the community response has been overwhelming.
“So thankful for the outpouring of support and material donations!” she wrote on her Village Masks Twitter account Monday. “I am so proud, blessed, and thankful for the community I live in. Thank you so much for helping contain the spread! More masks to come!”
Village Masks began with a donation of material from a neighbor, which Scianna said she has now basically exhausted. To ensure the safety of what she produces, she follows a strict process – washing the material, making the masks, washing them again, bagging them and leaving them out overnight before they are placed outside for pickup.
“I don’t feel comfortable putting something out that I don’t know for sure is safe,” she said.
Scianna said she welcomes donations of more material, although she will not accept financial donations – and she urges others who might be interested in supplying masks to those in need to visit the CDC’s DIY guidelines, available at cdc.gov.
“I want to keep doing it,” she said. “I’m happy that it’s getting a lot of attention, but I’m also worried that I’m not going to be able to keep up with demand. I’m going to try and keep making them as long as I can.”
She added: “The biggest thank you is someone wearing a mask. That’s the best. That makes me so happy.”
For more information or to contact Scianna, find @VillageMasks on Twitter or email firstname.lastname@example.org