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A Call For More Than One Day... of Service

2021 Presidential Inaugural Committee National Day of Service

Shelly Wong

Zuckerberg SF General ER department recipients of fabric face masks

Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. On January 18, 2021, It Takes A Village (ITAV) sponsored a national Day of Service event to assemble face shields. The outpouring of over 200 volunteers allowed us to make and donate an incredible 19,000 shields. This leads us to think that there is so much more that our communities want to give, to do. We should call on ourselves to serve continually during this health crisis. Why stop at one day of service? President Biden has called for unity. What better way to unite than through service and giving to others in need?

Times of deep stress and turmoil can bring out the best in us. During the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, women fought the flu by sewing gauze masks and volunteering as nurses. In World War II, volunteers made bandages and knitted and sewed clothing like scarves, vests and pajamas for soldiers; packed food kits to be shipped overseas; families made toys. By the time World War II ended in September 1945, nearly every family in America contained a member who had either served as a Red Cross volunteer, made contributions of money or blood, or was a recipient of Red Cross services.

1. Red Cross workers make anti-influenza masks for soldiers, Boston, Massachusetts. (National Archives Identifier 45499341) 2. photo courtesy Red Cross

The 2019 COVID-19 pandemic presented the world with a serious lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers. Just as in the war time effort of World War II, corporations, community groups and volunteers jumped in to help source N95s, surgical masks and make fabric face masks and face shields. Children printed face shield bands on their 3D printers. Quilters cut up sheets and quilts and turned them into face masks. At ITAV we turned a one-ton roll of donated Coca-Cola bottle material into 6,000 face shields before we received a generous donation of 42,000 shield kits from a generous local corporation. LTA Research’s gift came with one stipulation – get the shields to the communities in need. Donations of fabric and elastic poured in for our sewists to sew over 40,000 fabric face masks.

In less than one year, our grassroots all-volunteer organization will make and distribute over 125,000 pieces of PPE during this pandemic. This astounding number shows that a volunteer organization can make significant contributions to the community. Unfortunately, the fact that everything we make is immediately snapped up by the healthcare centers that we serve shows us that the need is still there.

Cathy T. and Mary Ann W. AHS, Shelly W. Alex C. Altura Centers for Health Tulare, Mark and Trina L. Healthright 360, Lisa D., George M. Ampla Health Yuga City, Victoria L. AHS,

After living with this pandemic for almost a year, social distancing and fabric face masks are still the most important lines of defense. Even with vaccinations so close, these of defense will be needed for a while. Our over 78,000 face masks have given whole communities access to virus protection. President Biden should call on Americans for not just one day of service, he should call on Americans for 365 days of service. In this time when more Americans have died than in World War II, each American should be encouraged to volunteer, to serve, to extend a helping hand to someone in need.

Here are some fun facts about volunteering; 1

  • Volunteerism improves health by reducing stress, improving mood and strengthening the body

  • Volunteers who volunteer regularly have a 27% better chance of gaining employment

  • 60% of hiring managers see the act of volunteerism as a valuable asset in recruitment decisions

  • 92% of human resource executives agree that contributing to a nonprofit can improve employee leadership skills

  • One out of four Americans volunteer. Two out of three Americans help their neighbor

  • San Jose, California (yeah San Jose!) is ranked #1 for recruiting volunteers who are millennials

Mitch G., Team Orinda volunteer, Team Orinda volunteer, William T. AHS, Lisa E. Valley Medical Foundation, Christian C. AHS, Vanessa B., Melissa C., Cathy T. Salud Para La Gente Watsonville

More importantly, we have created a community bonded by a common goal of giving. People we have never met, except through an email or a Mobilize sign-up, are now united in building PPE for donation to the medically underserved.

Could the Biden administration learn something from our experience? By encouraging corporations to address a COVID-19 relief need and forging relationships with community groups such as ours to reach the community? We hope so. It would be a winning formula for everyone. In the meantime, stay involved in any way that you choose. Our community needs us.


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