BOSTON (CBS) – Just like their laundry baskets, the people behind Steele Canvas in Chelsea are dependable and tough; the coronavirus pandemic is not the first crisis they've been through. In fact, they have kept their doors open through the Great Depression, World War II, 9/11 and the 2008 Recession.
"Times like this you feel pretty helpless. I'm not a doctor, I can barely take my own temperature so there's not too much I can do during a pandemic. However, this is one thing we can do. We can manufacture. We've been manufacturing in this country for almost 100 years," Vice President of Steele Canvas Paul Lordan told WBZ-TV.
Lordan and his brother co-own the family run business that originally opened in 1921 in Cambridge. Steele Canvas' manufacturing facility is now located in Chelsea, where they are known for producing their durable and stylish canvas laundry baskets, both for homes and industrial businesses.
About two weeks ago, they converted their cutting and stitch departments to make masks.
"It's been a bit of a learning curve for us but we knew right away that we had the capability to do something. We've spent a 100 years making baskets and we've spent about a week and a half making masks," Lordan said.
The 'Keep America Moving Mask' has a denim exterior with interior flannel lining and adjustable ear elastic.
"We really didn't know anything about masks up until a couple of weeks ago. Some of the research we stumbled upon and discussing with medical professionals is the denim, besides being a quintessential American fabric, is also a tightly woven cotton. The tighter the weave the more it keeps droplets from penetrating. The flannel on the inside is comfortable on the face," Lordan explained.
For every mask purchased, Steele Canvas is donating one mask to a front-line worker. So far they've donated about 10,000 masks and are on track to make 25,000.
"We thought we can't let it just stop. We need to keep our production moving, the healthcare facilities they need equipment so they can keep moving. We just don't wanna stand still. No one in this country wants that. So this is our very, very small contribution to help keep the country going in this particularly tough time," Lordan said.
The 'Keep America Moving Mask' costs $20 and is available to purchase online.
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