Suzanne Hollywood, and her son, Joey, who has FOP, are making a difference in their New Jersey community. They’re helping get face masks, caps and ear guards to people who need them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A mom and friend of the Hollywoods came up with the idea to sew cloth face masks as a way to combat anxiety and stress during the quarantine. Suzanne loved the idea and signed on right away to use this time to contribute something that’s needed.
“I don’t sew, but I know how to organize and didn’t mind driving about. A few more moms joined us in our grassroots efforts, then it just exploded into more than 500 volunteers. People sew, donate fabric and supplies and pick up and drop off completed masks,” said Suzanne.
The effort is now a nonprofit called The Mask Squad, and Suzanne serves as a trustee and the director of distribution. Completed masks, scrub caps and ear guards come to the Hollywoods’ garage where Suzanne works off a spreadsheet made by another volunteer to coordinate filling requests. Joey thought the idea and operation were cool, so he became a “Squadling” and records their filled orders.
“It’s very important to both my husband and I that Joey learns to help others and give back,” Suzanne said. “We have been on the receiving end of so much generosity and kindness since our FOP diagnosis. We want to help others as we have been helped.”
The Mask Squad has already created nearly 16,000 masks of all kinds. They prioritize giving them to medical professionals, but have also donated masks to local police and sheriff departments, fire and rescue squads, nursing homes, food pantries, animal shelters and neighbors. The Hollywoods hope their family can inspire others to do what they can to care for themselves and their community.
“Obviously, it feels good to know I’m helping in some way during a global pandemic. Using my downtime for a worthy cause really helped my mental health,” said Suzanne.
“You can be a small part of something big and your contribution will make a huge difference. It will take all of us doing one small thing to overcome the devastation of COVID-19.”
To see more about their work, visit themasksquad.com.