50,000 Masks!

On Friday, January 15, at a bit past six, a troupe of dedicated BMD volunteers walked out of Endwright East and just as they stepped out into the streetlamp-lit parking lot quietly realized they had crossed yet another milestone. A quick tally of the days work confirmed it – Bloomington Mask Drive has now made an astonishing 50,249 masks. Though only Nola, Kell, Kelly, and BMD first-gentlemen Alex and Sod were present to witness the turning of that marker, a small cheer went up nonetheless. This week, we’ll celebrate with a larger pool of volunteers live at Endwright. Stop in to see us! For now, we are still in there every week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 2 PM to 6 PM.

Recently one of our partners asked us if we could tell them how many free masks had been distributed via their mask station. Well, thanks to our tracking system built by yours truly (BMD co-founder, PT, and Renaissance Woman Kelly Clark), we certainly can! I went ahead and crunched the numbers to find out where our most recent 25,000 masks have gone, and I thought it was pretty interesting! Without further ado, here’s a break down of the TEN places we sent our masks since switching to mask stations in July this year:

10. Bloomington Mask Drive Volunteers: 248

BMD Volunteers and Partners are offered one free mask from our stash of “super cool volunteer masks” for every shift they come in to work at Endwright East. Onsite operations still take about 75 volunteer hours a week, every week, including 12 apiece by Nola and Kell to keep it all running smoothly week after week. That doesn’t include behind the scenes hours by our mask makers (or my purchasing / web / communications / etc, of course) but it can add up to a couple hundred masks over the months – or 248 since July 27, to be exact!

9. Indiana University’s Luddy Hall: 626

Our partners at IU’s own Luddy Hall are at a bit of a disadvantage, numbers-wise. Not only were they the LAST of eight mask stations that we brought online (in early October 2020) they also saw less action since the majority of students went home to finish up their semesters remotely after Thanksgiving. They come in at number nine with 626 masks. We’ll have to wait and see if they catch up now that students are coming back!

8. Little Free Pantry: 802

Bloomington Mask Drive volunteers still regularly add a few packets of masks at a time to around a dozen Little Free Pantries scattered around town. These volunteers, including super-dedicated volunteers Kell Mirowski and Barbara Thompson, have personally distributed 802 masks via their deliveries to Little Free Pantries.

7. Wheeler Mission: 1140

Wheeler Mission provides hot meals 365 days a year via their men’s shelter and day room on Bloomington’s West Side, and provide masks not only to some of the most vulnerable folks in our population but to anyone who cares to stop in and get some from the station housed in their day room 7 days a week, 12 hours a day. Since partnering with Bloomington Mask Drive last fall, they’ve distributed 1140 free masks!

6. Hopscotch Coffee: 1380

Our arguably-hippest location at Hopscotch Coffee has put out an impressive 1380 masks via their patio-based mask station along the B-Line trail. Folks stopping in for a hot and tasty beverage can find our free masks, drop off a donation, and go for a socially distant stroll along the trail.

5. Patient PT: 1414

I am so proud to see my own small business pull up at number five with 1414 free masks distributed. Though this was the very first community mask station, officially placed on July 11, 2020, it was only chosen as our pilot location out of necessity. I started planning for a mask station system of distribution in May, but wasn’t able to convince any better-known locations to host the trial version. Patient PT doesn’t see as much mask station traffic now that we have recruited so many bigger and better-known partners, but it continues to supply Bloomington’s near North side, and Patient PT will always be BMD’s Premier Partner.

4. South Central Community Action Program: 2406

SCCAP provides a ton of resources to needful families and children, and we are proud they decided to add a BMD Community Mask Station to their offerings. Kiwanis of South Central Indiana donated their blank mask station, and SCCAP’s own Jessica Yeary decorated it to remind families to mask up. Thank you SCCAP for hosting our mask station and putting it to great use distributing an impressive 2406 masks!

3. Comfort Keepers: 2592

It is suitable that community mask station #3 comes in at third place, distributing 2592 free masks via the first location we opened that made masks available outdoors. Comfort Keepers’ Stacey Goffinet went the extra mile decorating the Comfort Keepers mask station in a bright, beautiful theme modeled after the flying house in the movie Up. Stacey was the first partner to take me up on my offer to let BMD partners decorate their mask stations, and definitely gave our Partners program a boost!

2. Area 10 Agency on Aging: 5179

Area 10 Agency on Aging has hosted community mask station #2 ever since we re-started volunteer operations in late July. Long-term fans of Bloomington Mask Drive may recall that City of Bloomington hosted us at a series of municiple locations during our first three months, but was no longer able to host us after rental requests resumed for the community centers that were our home from April through the end of June. We thought we were going to shut down for a little while, but the Bloomington community and our own volunteers made it clear our work was not done. When Area 10 stepped up to host our volunteer operations at Endwright East, and agreed to host our first prominently located mask station just outside the door and just inside College Mall, we decided to continue providing free masks for as long as we were needed. These almost 25,000 masks we’ve distributed since they started hosting us would absolutely never have been possible without their help, and masks have never stopped flying out of their mask station at Endwright East.

1. Monroe County Public Library: 6578

It came as no suprise that powerhouse partner Monroe County Public Library comes in at number one. The central location, high volume of visitors, and reputation as a trusted community resource all make MCPL the ideal partner for Bloomington Mask Drive. BMD Co-Founder, Bloomington Quilters Guild board member, and Head Mask Maker Nola Hartman has always felt that the library is the heart of a community, and she had a long career as a librarian at MCPL before retiring a few years back.

No one was happier than Nola when BMD got word from MCPL Director Marilyn Wood letting us know that she was ready to take the plunge and host our fifth-to-open, but first-place distributor station in the vestibule at Monroe County Public Library’s downtown branch. Employees of the library had to make trips to BMD headquarters two and three times a week every week for months to keep up with the demand at the library, literally picking up more bags of masks as fast as Kell and the distribution volunteers could get them clean and packaged up. Thank you to Marilyn, Brian, Ben, and Jimmy at MCPL for keeping that hungry mask station full for us these last few months.

If you’d like to see where the first 25,000 masks made by Bloomington Mask Drive volunteers went, check out our recipients list here.

To celebrate, Patient PT is sending the volunteers dinner tonight. If you’d like to send a free meal or snack over to our volunteers, please get all the information and sign up here.

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