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jimmy mcclellan

Alumnus Helps Organization Provide Sewn Masks for Those in Need

JIMMY MCCLELLAN ’12 was looking for a way to get locally involved in his city of Hyattsville, Maryland, located just outside of Washington, D.C. Then the pandemic hit.

As a former political science major, McClellan was always interested in giving back to his community. After hearing that a newly launched local organization needed someone to manage their social media presence, he reached out.

The organization, Route 1 Mask Match, has been providing sewn masks since March to help stop the spread of COVID-19 among vulnerable and underserved populations in communities surrounding the Route 1 corridor of Maryland — encompassing roughly four square miles.

A variety of masks sewn by Route 1 Mask Match volunteers (image courtesy of Alesha Burk).

“We are focused on people over 60, essential workers and people who are immunocompromised, along with their caretakers,” McClellan said.

After speaking with one of the organization’s coordinators, Lissa Bell, McClellan realized Route 1 Mask Match also needed a website to take requests for masks and provide information on how volunteers can sew the masks at home.

McClellan got to work, quickly creating a placeholder site in three days despite never building a website before. The impact was immediate.

Within the first few days of the site launching the group received over 200 requests for masks. As demand continued to rise, the team realized they needed more volunteers to sew, so McClellan took to social media, posting videos that detailed how to sew the masks and participate.

Since this initial launch, the organization has provided over 2,100 masks to people throughout their area, usually satisfying requests within three days.

Hoping that the demand for masks will soon be met, Route 1 has begun to provide surplus masks to higher-risk communities like retirement homes, while also looking to expand their range of service.

“We’ve started to talk to council members in local city governments,” McClellan said, explaining that they’d like to see where else they might be able to help.

Route 1 Mask Match currently works with roughly 60 volunteers, about 40 of whom sew the masks and an additional 20 who help with public outreach like McClellan, conduct socially distanced deliveries or take on other tasks as needed.

To learn more about Route 1 Mask Match, please click here.