VERONA, NJ - Backpacks For Life, a Verona-based non-profit, and United States Manufacturing Corporation, a New Jersey manufacturer, have joined together to create hospital grade masks for healthcare workers. The two veteran-owned entities have a combined 32 years of textile and manufacturing experience, and intend to put this to good use to help local hospitals and healthcare facilities.

“We met the owners of United States Manufacturing Corporation at a Bunker Labs (a nonprofit for veteran entrepreneurs) event and became fast friends,” said Brett D’Allesandro, Founder of Backpacks for Life, an organization which typically provides backpacks of essentials to homeless veterans. “Domenick and Mario Monaco are former Marines as well, so we got along instantly. They have been sewing patches on our backpacks for a few months now. When COVID-19 started becoming a big issue and we saw the strain on our health care providers, I realized that with our experience in developing our backpacks for homeless veterans, we had tons of contacts in textiles and manufacturing industry.” D’Allesandro made contact with the Monacos and a mask-making plan was created. In addition to supporting healthcare workers, D’Allesandro stated, the partnership “allows us to not only help support them as a small veteran-owned business but keep some of their staff employed during this time as well.” 

These masks are being marketed directly to healthcare facilities due to their intricate design. triple layer design. “Our mask is a 3 layer mask - the two outer layers are spunbond nonwoven polypropylene, the exact material used in your typical surgical masks,” said Brett D’Allesandro, of Backpacks for Life. “The inner layer, which is most important, is the filtration layer which is a non-woven statically charged heat blown polypropylene which has a BFE (bacteria filtration efficiency) of 95% (most commonly written as BFE95). This filtration layer is what helps to prevent any virus cells from coming through the mask.”

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The fundraiser has started a GoFundMe to help cover the costs of all materials and labor that goes into making the masks. “Each mask is only $3.80--we are not marking it up,” said D’Allesandro. “Simply put...we are just trying to get these masks out to those who need them most on the front lines. All contributions from the campaign will go directly towards our costs to make these masks and that's it!”

At the current pace, the team is on track to produce 5,000 masks per week. If you would like to contribute to the GoFundMe to help offset the costs of the masks for hospitals, you may donate at GoFundMe-Masks for Our Heroes . Any additional information can also be requested by emailing info@backpacksforlife.org or calling 862-266-1704.

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