Ready, Set, Sew: Brushwood Center’s COVID-19 Face Mask Drive

Never underestimate the power of community in a time of crisis.  Artists and volunteers from Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods are rising to the occasion to address the dire need for face masks across Lake County’s healthcare community. With the help of mask-making kits from Brushwood’s Art Supply Exchange, more than 1,00 masks have already been distributed to hospitals, clinics, and assisted living centers.

What Brushwood Center is Doing:

Many local healthcare providers face a serious shortage of protective face masks in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. As an organization dedicated to wellness that partners with multiple health care organizations throughout Lake and Cook Counties, Brushwood Center is mobilizing its community to meet this need.

Through online coordination of local artists, volunteers, and community partners, and with the material supplies from their very own BASE (Brushwood Art Supply Exchange) Brushwood is assisting in supplying much needed face masks. To date, kits to assemble well over 1,400 face masks have been distributed, and more than one thousand finished face masks have been delivered to healthcare workers in need. Mask fabrics represent the vitality and community spirit of the Chicago area, ranging from sports team patterns to cheerful spring flowers. Mask donation recipients include Vista Medical Center in Waukegan, Fenix Family Health Center in Highwood, Lake Forest Northwestern Hospital, Cedar Lake Assisted Living in Lake Zurich, Advocate Lutheran General, and the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago. 

“The need for protective equipment is urgent, and Brushwood Center’s community of artists and volunteers have really stepped up to the challenge. People are excited to help. Volunteers do the sewing, and we make sure the masks are delivered to the places that truly need them.” Catherine Game, Executive Director, Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods

How You Can Help:

For those who would like to contribute to support our healthcare heroes, all you need is basic sewing knowledge and instructions for mask sewing which are available on the Brushwood Center website The materials needed are simple cotton fabric, elastic/fabric ties, and sewing equipment.

Donate your sewn masks to Brushwood Center’s front porch in the donation bin. Their mighty team of volunteers will handle the donation pick-ups and delivery to healthcare centers. Please email us at or message us via Facebook when you have dropped off your masks so we can track quantity.

Drop off between sunrise and dusk on the Brushwood Center front porch: 21850 North Riverwoods Road, Riverwoods, IL.

It’s okay if there are small differences between masks. There are many instructional videos available online as well that you can reference.

Throughout our area there are other organizations with similar mask drives. Wherever you choose to put your energy, just know that it is appreciated.

BASE (Brushwood Center Art Supply Exchange)

BASE is a creative reuse center operated by Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods where your unwanted art and craft supplies can find new life.  BASE provides materials, tools and education at very low-cost to the public, and free to educators and community partners. BASE remains closed due to COVID-19 through the end of April.

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