Walmart Foundation gives $10,000 to support Michigan 4-H Mask Project

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Abbey Miller – June 23, 2020

Over 6,052 cloth face coverings have been made by the Michigan 4-H community and donated statewide to those in need.

Packaged 4-H masks

As the novel coronavirus pandemic, the virus that causes the infectious disease COVID-19, gripped the world, the Michigan 4-H community quickly stepped up to help. In early April, Michigan 4-H youth and families across the state began independently sewing homemade cloth face coverings and donating them to protect the public, essential workers and members of the healthcare workforce. Using basic sewing skills and a few simple supplies, 4-H youth and volunteers tirelessly crafted cloth face coverings in their homes to do their part in the fight against COVID-19.

“It’s inspiring to see Michigan 4-H members and volunteers take the lead to address a real world problem by putting their hands to larger service to meet the needs of their communities,” said Gary Williams, former Wayne County MSU Extension educator and co-coordinator of the Michigan 4-H Mask Project with Anne Kretschmann, MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator in Houghton and Keweenaw counties.

By mid-April, Michigan 4-H centralized these local efforts and created a goal to donate over 5,000 face coverings through the Michigan 4-H Mask Project. The 4-H community quickly met the goal and donated the masks to more than 25 different organizations, with a major shipment being sent to 11 City of Detroit Parks and Recreation food distribution sites. This helped to distribute cloth face coverings to low-income families in the hard-hit Detroit community.

“The cloth face coverings have been donated to over 100 locations statewide, including the Focus Hope Food Program and the Detroit Parks and Recreation Department’s food distribution program,” Williams said. “We’re very proud that our Michigan 4-H members and volunteers have really taken this to heart and are making a large difference for so many people.”

When Maggie Sans, vice president for community relations at Walmart, who is also an Oakland County 4-H alumna and National 4-H Council board member, learned of the Michigan 4-H Mask Project, she was moved to take action. Walmart Foundation made a $10,000 gift to support the Michigan 4-H Mask Project.

“Detroit was a hotspot of growth for COVID-19 and there was an urgent need to provide Detroit area residents with masks that would help them protect themselves and members of the community,” Sans said. “MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H have a legacy of investing in our communities, engaging our youth in solutions, and delivering results.”

The funds donated by the Walmart Foundation will be used to help expand this project with the purchase of additional fabric and elastic necessary to make the cloth face coverings, as well as support for distributing the newly made cloth face coverings to those in need and sending supplies to volunteer mask-makers across the state.

“With the support of the Walmart Foundation, we will be able to replenish the supplies of mask-makers across the state who have so generously donated their time and materials to create cloth face coverings for our statewide effort,” said Amy Bonomi, former director of MSU Extension Children and Youth Programs. “We are grateful to Ms. Sans and the Walmart Foundation for their partnership on this important initiative.”

In addition to the gift from the Walmart Foundation, $1,060 were donated by individuals for the Michigan 4-H Mask Project through #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving and unity that took place on May 5, 2020. To date, more than 6,050 cloth face coverings have been made by the Michigan 4-H community and donated statewide. To help with the distribution, Michigan 4-H also partnered with the Michigan group Crafters Combating COVID. To learn more about the Michigan 4-H Mask Project, visit

Cloth face coverings are among the strategies to protect against the spread of novel coronavirus recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Please visit the CDC website for more recommended prevention strategies.