MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ - As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, hospital supplies begin to dwindle. That is until residents of Morristown, Morris Township and Plains came together to help restock the medical centers. One particular group of individuals doing such a feat is known as the Alexander Hamilton Neighborhood Mask Makers.
“They are a group of kind, giving and caring individuals who go above and beyond to make sure our neighborhoods are protected,” said Kristi Dimogerodakis, operational manager of Verilli’s Bakery, in Morristown, whose establishment helps with food distribution for needy families.
“They are just giving their time and energy on the frontlines to help those in the Morris area.”
The Mask Makers first started when Morristown resident Sieglinde Pylypchuk decided to make masks for Morristown Medical Center back in late March. After exhausting her own supplies, she posted on Nextdoor, asking if anyone in the neighborhood had more to spare. Her husband Steve, and friends Linnea Hasegawa, Irene Avlonitis and her husband Douglas Vorolieff and Natasha Kirk answered the call. But the group of volunteers continued to grow. The group now consists of about 25 families from Mendham to Morris Plains.
Since their formation, the Mask Makers have made over 3,000 masks for all those in need.
Aside from masks, the group also raises money for Help MorrisNOW, a local program that has partnered up with local food distributors, churches and non-profits to help raise funds and collect non-perishable supplies to feed those who are in desperate need during the pandemic.
For Help MorrisNOW, the Mask Makers have donated $250 in cash and $530 in groceries as well as 430 masks for both adults and kids. The group has also donated $700 to Wind of the Spirit and $250 to NourishNJ. Other donations include the COVID-19 Support Fund at the Morristown Medical Center, and to No Kid Hungry, a national organization that works to feed children during the coronavirus crisis.
The Mask Makers have adonated over 500 masks to Morristown Medical Center, Summit Medical Group, St. Claire’s Hospital, and other individual practices. They also supported other organizations in their efforts with another 750 masks going to Hillside Hose Company, Roots and Wings, Visions and Pathways, Community HopeNJ, Interfaith Food Pantry and Cheshire House, as well as countless masks to local businesses for their workers.
Furthermore, the Mask Makers have made and distributed over 80 scrub caps to medical personnel at Morristown Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson, Chilton Memorial, St. Claire’s, and St. Joseph’s Hospitals.
“This is an amazing group of people coming together but it’s not surprising,” said Pylypchuk. “We have a great group of neighbors always willing to lend a hand and being able to help out so many people in such a short time has been unbelievable. The thank you notes we’ve received have been heartwarming and keep us going.”
Recently, on May 17th, the Mask Makers received further support from local leaders. At Verrilli’s Bakery, Morristown Council President Stefan Armington met with the group to present them with an envelope containing $995.
“When Stefan reached out to friends and neighbors about this opportunity to have donations matched, we were happy to participate,” said Pylypchuk.“We’re all part of the same community and we’re happy to lend a hand.”
For more information on the Alexander Hamilton Neighborhood Mask Makers, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/925822424535338/.