The novel coronavirus has inevitably forced a change in everyday life for those around the world. For actress and comedian Kristina Wong, that meant previously booked tours were forced to be put on hold due until the virus was under control. According to MSN, the entertainer, well-known for her one-woman shows, decided the best plan of action to make the most of her unexpectedly free time was to give back to those in need. "I'm going to stay busy," she told herself at the time. "And I'm going to fix other people's problems."
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Deciding how she'd make an impact and help those who needed it most came easily. The entertainer makes all of her stage props from scratch, so she used the extra fabric lying around her home and the sewing skills she learned growing up to start making face masks. "I was like 'I can do this. I can sew.' I just sort of refuse to believe that we're powerless in these situations," she said. "I made my first mask on March 20th. I posted on my Facebook page, [and said] 'If you are immunocompromised or don't have access to masks, I'll make you a mask. Just reimburse me $5 for postage.'"
But once Wong noticed a flood of requests come into her Facebook page, she quickly enlisted a group she calls the "Auntie Sewing Squad," and put those extra hands to work creating even more protective masks. The group grew from its initial 26 volunteers to 800 people across the United States.
The mission of the "Auntie Sewing Squad" is to continue to reach those in underserved communities, including farmworkers, immigrants, Native Americans, and Black and Brown people. In addition to creating masks, the volunteers also help each other by providing food, fabric, and sewing machines throughout the group as they continue to balance their jobs and other obligations. "I am in awe of the labor, all of the labor that everyone has given," Los Angeles-based volunteer Jessica Arana said. "I mean it's an incredible amount of time and effort that people have shared. But it's nothing compared to what the communities who are bearing the brunt of the pandemic are going through."