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May 13, 2020

Utah Higher Education Leaders Unite Around ProjectProtect

WGU Participates in “Sew Your True Colors” Campaign to Benefit Frontline Healthcare Workers

SALT LAKE CITY — All of Utah’s institutions of higher education are coming together to support ProjectProtect, a grassroots initiative that has a goal to produce 5 million medical-grade masks to address the national shortage of personal protective equipment.

The collaborative effort between University of Utah Health, Intermountain Healthcare, Latter-day Saint Charities, several Utah nonprofits, and tens of thousands of volunteer sewers across the state has already produced over 3 million masks to protect frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, universities, colleges and technical colleges are rallying together to take the project across the finish line. They are launching a “Sew Your True Colors” campaign, asking their school communities to sew masks using thread in the color of their institution. When frontline caregivers use these masks, they will know that Utah’s higher education community supports them.

"We’re delighted to be part of this effort,” said Western Governors University President Scott Pulsipher. “WGU currently serves more than 29,500 students in the College of Health Professions, including more than 1,040 in Utah. Many of those students are working nurses, nurse managers, and health services providers. We’re happy to do whatever we can to help support them during this difficult time.”

Volunteers can sign up starting today at ProjectProtect.health and then pick up their kits of 100 masks at one of six donation sites spanning from Harrisville to St. George. The kits, which can be picked up on May 19, contain all of the materials needed except for the thread. Sewing volunteers are encouraged, but not required, to use their school color and sew the school spirit into the mask. Masks will be returned on Saturday, May 30, at the same location as pickup.  

Volunteers will need a sewing machine, thread, scissors and pins, but they do not need a high level of sewing skills to produce these masks. Detailed instructions will be provided. Each kit will include 100 masks and, depending on the sewer’s level of experience, each mask should take five to 10 minutes to sew, for a total of 10 to 15 hours of sewing time over 11 days. Many volunteers have engaged their entire families to pin, cut and sew. Others have divided the 100 masks among neighbors, families and friends.

"I am overjoyed to see all higher education institutions in Utah coming together to support our medical workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, including some of our very own alumni, in this time of great need,” said Harris H. Simmons, Chair of the USHE Board of Regents. “By working together, we can reach the goal of producing 5 million medical-grade pieces of PPE through this meaningful effort."

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Joan Mitchell, VP Public Relations

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jmitchell@wgu.edu
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