NOTL Community Mask Project

What began as a small project has had a huge impact and resulted in the creation of the NOTL Community Mask Group.

Frances Boot started sewing cotton masks mid-March when her daughter who works in the Emergency Room in a Toronto hospital alerted her to the shortage of PPE for frontline workers.

Her friend, Julia Buxton-Cox set up a Facebook page and website to coordinate requests to get washable fabric masks in the hands of frontline workers at no cost to them. 4,300 masks were distributed with a team of more then 50 sewists (a new term combing ‘sew’ and ‘artist’) from throughout the Niagara Region organized by Fran and her sister Donna Feddema.

The need to support frontline workers came to an end after approximately 5 weeks and around the same time interest was growing in the Community as the value for wearing a mask became more apparent. Once again using mostly donated fabric a small group of 12 sewists branched off from the original one and continued to sew.

Distribution was done from five driveway sites in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Looking to continue growing the project, Mori Gardens in NOTL, offered to set up a Mask Tree as well, where shoppers can purchase a handmade cotton mask. Over 1,200 masks have been collectively sold . In addition to being available for purchase at Mori Gardens, you can find them throughout NOTL at 2252 Four Mile Creek Rd., 387 Simcoe St., 607 Simcoe St., and 43 Colonel Butler Dr.

Wanting to give back to the community and being aware that the needs of those struggling with homelessness and food security were mounting, Frances reached out to United Way Niagara. Fran, Julia, Lorna, and their volunteer sewists had raised $12,000 and wanted it to have a big impact. They were thrilled to know their support would be matched by The Brown Homestead and the Humeniuk Foundation, doubling their impact.

The group of friends, some of whom have never met in person, continue to sew and raise money for Community causes. Its their hope that everyone will wear a mask when physical distancing might not be possible, in order to help lower the COVID risk.

The Brown Homestead in association with the Humeniuk Foundation contributed $100,000 to the Emergency Response Fund as a matching gift opportunity to encourage others to give to support those affected by COVID-19. To help support the important work of United Way Niagara and the network of agencies in Niagara, donate what you can at

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