BREA (CBSLA) — When all the orders came to a crashing halt last week, Abdul Rashid chose to pivot in the face of panic.
“I chose to keep my employees employed and do something for them and their families, ” said Rashid, who owns the largest T-shirt manufacturing company in the country.
In order to do this, he had to transform his businesses from non-essential to critical overnight. So, Rashid bought all new equipment and trained his 500 workers to make only 100 percent, three-layer cotton masks for medical personnel and first responders — all for free.
“These are not the N95 masks they’re talking about. These are cotton masks that are washable, reusable,” he said. “[They] offer some protection.”
Not only are those who desperately need masks thanking Rashid, so are his employees.
“We are now helping the situation,” said one worker. “That feels better than only caring about ourselves and our job.”
Just when Rashid began to wonder how long he could pay his workers to make masks he was giving away for free, FEMA took notice. Yesterday, the federal agency placed a massive order for masks to help their medical personnel on the front lines of the COVID-19 response.
“It was millions. Now it’s billions of masks we need,” Rashid said. “There’s such a shortage that we need to fill, and it’s long term. It could be up to 18 months.”
Any person who needs a mask can get one for free by emailing email@example.com or calling 1-800-379-9969.