During these troubling times, many people and even whole establishments take on new challenges to support their local community. For the Library of the Chathams, their challenge involves making 1,000 face masks.

Since March 28th, community volunteers and members of the Friends of the Library Board have been sewing countless masks. Monies for the mask material initially came from the last annual Friends of the Library Book Sale. Usual funds are given to the library each May to last through the following April. But now during the COVID-19 crisis, the library has found additional funds and materials being donated by the generous communities around it.

“The first batch was delivered to Chatham Emergency Squad,” said Karen Brodsky, director of the Library of the Chatham. “Squad members sterilize the masks and are partnering in distributing them where there is an urgent front-line need and appropriate uses in our community. Entities on the working list include Morristown and Overlook hospitals.”

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For the 1,000 Masks Challenge, 154 individuals have committed themselves to its completion. This includes the entire Friends of the Library Board, several members of the Library Board of Trustees, seven library staff members, and over 120 volunteers sewing the masks. Together, everyone has been cutting fabric and elastic, preparing kits and transporting them around the area.

“ECLC Pride has provided library tote bags at a reduced cost and these are being utilized to transport the kits to volunteers," Brodsky said. "Chatham Borough and Chatham Township leadership and personnel have been integral in identifying the needs of our community and keeping the library staff informed of opportunities to contribute.”

As of now, over 500 have been completed. The Chatham library has spent just under $3,800 so far and has recently started a fundraising effort for the 1,000 Masks Challenge. And Brodsky and her volunteers intend to reach their set goal, while doing other services for their community.

“I think it’s a relief to people in the community to be able to take a positive action to battle this invisible enemy and to help protect our vital front-line workers,” said Brodsky.

“Library staff members have essentially transformed the library to all virtual services, including eBooks, eAudiobooks, downloadable movies and music, virtual programming on a variety of topics to engage any interest from crafts and fun learning activities to yoga and health, to the Socratic discussion. Our website is being converted from information about programs to the actual delivery of programs.”

To learn more about the 1,000 Masks Challenge, and how to get involved or donate, visit the Library of the Chathams’ website at https://chathamlibrary.org/donate-to-1000-masks-challenge/.

Anyone interested in volunteering to sew masks, please email the library at masks@chathamlibrary.org.