Mask Tree Empowers People During the Pandemic
A Mask Tree was created by Harrowgate resident and North Philadelphia native Darlene Burton. Burton is responsible for the unusual-looking tree. She is responsible for what is the free-to-take installation. It combats the feelings of powerlessness brought on by the resurging coronavirus pandemic.
“I hate to feel helpless,” Burton explained. “I figured if I can just help in some way with COVID, it will make me feel better as a community member.”
Mask Tree Went up Last Week, Burton’s Daughter has COVID-19
Burton first put up the masks last Thursday. Then the very next day, her daughter, a phlebotomist who works in a local hospital, came down with the Corona Virus. That only strengthened her resolve to want to help.
“It just made me turn into mama bear mode,” said the 50-year-old mother and grandmother.
More Mask Trees, Free Outdoor Mask Dispensaries are Growing in Number
Since then, a few other mask trees and free outdoor mask dispensaries have popped up around Philly. The Fishtown Free Mask Project pinned some free, two-layer sewn masks to shrubbery. This is on Amber Street. Sew Face Masks Philadelphia co-founder Eugene Desyatnik said there’s another outdoor distribution depot in Bella Vista at 6th and Fitzwater. There is also one at a library branch in West Philly.
High Demand: Burton has Restocked her Tree Three Times
Since launching the effort last week, on the only full-grown greenery on her block, she is restocking the tree three times. Burton has carefully suspended 30 individual masks. Each is tucked into a Ziploc bag to keep it clean.
Burton has Ordered Masks and Supplies on Amazon
Burton started by ordering 150 masks and other supplies on Amazon. A neighbor donated 50 masks and a neighboring pizza shop has also reached out to donate, Burton said.
Philly’s windy weather recently is all that is hindering her from restocking more often. This is because, by the end of each day, she’s found the tree bare.
The Harrowgate neighborhood in the city’s 19134 ZIP code has seen a 10% coronavirus positivity test rate in the last two weeks. This is according to the Philadelphia Health Department data. By that metric, it’s not one of the city’s worst areas right now. However, it is the neighborhood is between bad spots. To its north and northeast are ZIPs that have recording positivity rates between 15% and 20% recently.