University of Michigan students raise money through Blue Mask Initiative for PPE

The Blue Mask Initiative logo. (Blue Mask Initiative)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Undergraduate students from the University of Michigan have been raising funds through the Blue Mask Initiative to buy KN-95 masks for front line healthcare workers at elder nursing homes.

Created in May by University of Michigan students Adhavan Arivalagan and Akash Rau, the Blue Mask Initiative was started to help with the lack of personal protective equipment for staff members working with a vulnerable population.

Students in the fundraising initiative partnered with doctors and nursing home staff with connections to CDC/FDA approved suppliers so as to get the masks for staff.

Blue Mask Initiative joined similar groups at other schools and community organizations, including Michigan State University, Northville High School and Detroit Country Day, to expand the reach of the initiative.

U-M junior and BMI member Rachel O’Farrell said that the organization itself raised $4,100 through its GoFundMe account and a Venmo account.

With its partnering groups and donations, BMI donated between 50 to 200 masks to five nursing homes.

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O’Farrell joined the group after seeing a Facebook post about the initiative. As a public health student, she wanted something that she could contribute to involving the current COVID-19 pandemic.

She said that she wanted to do something to help frontline workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that they were protected as they protected the elderly.

According to O’Farrell, the organization had over 80 student members who used their social networks to fundraise and raise awareness about the mask initiative.

The Blue Mask Initiative campaign ended on May 31. According to an email from organizers, BMI ended early “in light of recent events” related to police brutality across the United States. It was scheduled to end on June 6.

University of Michigan students from the Blue Mask Initiative. (Blue Mask Initiative)

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.