At the beginning of the pandemic, people frantically searched for masks. Material to make them was limited. But Wong had scraps of fabric laying around her home as she sews her own stage props. She learned the basics of sewing helping her mother quilt as a kindergartener and picked up sewing machine skills in her sixth-grade home economics class.
"I was like 'I can do this. I can sew.' I just sort of refuse to believe that we're powerless in these situations," she said. "I made my first mask on March 20th. I posted on my Facebook page 'If you are immunocompromised or don't have access to masks, I'll make you a mask. Just reimburse me $5 for postage.'"
Hundreds of requests for masks poured in, and Wong soon realized she couldn't do it alone.
"I was saying 'yes' faster than I could sew."
So, she posted a plea for help.
Soon, others began volunteering and Wong launched a Facebook group called the "Auntie Sewing Squad." It started with just 26 people. Now, it has more than 800 sewers across the United States.
So far, the group has distributed more than 55,000 masks to communities in need. Wong is proud of the group. But she is also frustrated.
"I do refer to our group as a 'sweatshop' because I don't want to romanticize it. While we are enjoying each other's company in this very strange time in history, we shouldn't have to be doing this work. This is absolutely the government's job. We should not have had to turn our homes upside down into sweatshops and pull the sheets off our beds to make masks."
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