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Tucson sewing nonprofit donates most masks in the nation, 50,000 made

Posted at 6:56 AM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 09:56:16-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — A local sewing group has donated more than 50,000 masks to first responders, with rumors saying they're number one in the nation.

Mending Souls is a nonprofit that sews items for charity, but once the pandemic hit everything changed into making masks.

After six weeks of work, the organization has an army of over 1,000 volunteers.

"The army that said this is Tucson, we rise up; we will take care of you; we got you covered," Founder of Mending Souls Michelle Don-Carlos said.

The process is broken down into teams.

The sewing teams has about 800 people and the cutting team at about 200.

The lines are at Anshei Israel Congregation Parking Lot (west side) at 4 p.m. and Tucson Mall Food Court (north side) Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

To help the produce 4,000 masks a day, they're also working with Joe O'Connell, owner of Creative Machines.

"When my wife and her friends were sewing masks for mending souls I noticed it was taking them three times the amount of time to cut the fabric out as they were spending sewing," O'Connell said.

He donated his building and laser cutter.

"We can cut about 2,000 a day in a normal 8 hour day," O'Connell said.

Don-Carlos said the organization is making sure every person who needs a mask is getting one.

"Their is a woman whose son is deployed and living in a tent," Don Carlos said. "There is 85 services people out there who are in need of masks, so we’re shipping them out tonight. Also to the Navajo Nation, Tohono Nation. It’s not just for our local hospitals, but anyone the surrounding communities. You take care of us, we take care of you."

Many of the volunteers have funded a lot of the mission out of their own pockets.

Recently, Empire-Cat of the Southwest, the company Michelle's husband Steven Sartin works at, donated to help run two weeks of operations.

"It’s thanks to people like Jeff Whiteman at my company empire CAT to donate that’s why reason we’re able to keep going," Sartin said.

Don-Carlos said every person who is volunteering around the clock is a representation for how Tucson has each others back.

"We’re a community. We’re part of Tucson," O'Connell said. "It’s like, wouldn’t you help your own family? Of course."

Michelle said the army will not stop until the pandemic is over, but they rely on volunteers and donations to keep going. To help out you can reach Michelle here:

If you work for a medical facility and need masks, reach out to the Mask Donation Request List at

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