Shirts to Masks

Members Convert Old Contract Shirts into Masks for Job Site Safety

Necessity is the mother of invention. For Derrick Keene, his idea to create face masks for carpenters was simple and purposeful.

Keene (LU 41) has long been active with Carpenters In Action and he took his idea to Representative Fidencio Velasco. The Northwest Carpenters Union then provided Derrick with a stack of unused t-shirts and he converted each one into gaiter style face masks.

A rectangle, cut from t-shirt material, folded in half and sewn together gaiter style, can not only be worn as a mask, but as a sweatband. It can easily be pulled into place and gently fitted to accommodate safety glasses and hardhat.

“I hope to have 40 of them ready to pass out on job sites,” said Keene. “My mom, Irene and nephew Xander are helping make them.”

Derricks mother, Irene Norris, sews masks that will be passed to carpenters who are still working in the field
Xander Keene, Derricks nephew, helps cut t-shirts to make into gaiter masks

The idea spread. In Wellpinit, WA headquarters of the Spokane Indian Reservation, 4th-period apprentice Cailona (Moritz) Bear of LU 59 began making masks for the elders.

She was encouraged in this endeavor by her sister who saw Derrick’s Facebook post about the gaiters he was making. Cailona reached out to him and her local union representatives to get gaiters started for members in her area. She also received a stack of t-shirts from the Council.

“I was really excited about making face masks for our local union members,” said Cailona. “It’s been great re-learning to use a sewing machine and volunteering my time.”

Cailona Moritz has been re-purposing old t-shirts for tribal elders and others.

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