AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) -A new Auburn University initiative will help supply protective face masks to local clinics and community health providers. Auburn University Outreach’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, or OLLI at Auburn, is planning to produce 10,000 protective face masks to meet the growing demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“OLLI at Auburn has a dedicated and talented base of members who are eager to help during this public health crisis,” said Scott Bishop, director of OLLI at Auburn. “Where we saw a need was to provide support to these individual efforts with some collective assistance and thus help ramp up the production of personal protective masks at this time of great need.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a shortage of medical supplies, especially PPEs, or personal protective equipment. Though not surgical-grade PPE, these volunteer-made masks are still useful for many health situations, allowing commercial masks to be saved for where they are most needed.

University Outreach is working with organizations across campus, including the Auburn University Medical Clinic, Media Production Group, as well as faculty from the Department of Industrial and Graphic Design, and the Department of Curriculum and Teaching. Medical Clinic Director Fred Kam advised on the design and applications for the masks; Science and Engineering Education Professor Christine Schnittka created prototypes and designed an instructional plan; Industrial Design Department Head Clark Lundell provided laser-cut fabrication templates, and MPG Director Bruce Kuerten produced an online video featuring sewing instructions. Vice President for Development Jane DiFolco Parker announced the Auburn University Foundation will provide $20,000 in funding to support the acquisition of materials to produce the masks.

“One of the most extraordinary aspects of the Auburn Family is it’s capacity and willingness to help the community in times of need,” said Auburn University President, Jay Gogue. “University Outreach and OLLI at Auburn represent the best of that spirit of service, and I appreciate their leadership in this initiative.”

The masks will be collected at OLLI at Auburn’s Sunny Slope office for distribution to a number of health care facilities throughout the area including the Auburn University Medical Clinic, and East Alabama Medical Center. The masks are designed to cover the mouth and nose comfortably, and fitted with ties so one size fits all. Volunteers can sew these masks from cotton fabric templates available at Sunny Slope.

“By making a mask, you can make a difference for our community, especially at this critical time,” said Bishop. “We welcome everyone’s help in this special initiative.”

Instructions and a demonstration video are available on the initiative’s website at aub.ie/auoutreachmasks.