Eagle T-shirt shop offers free face masks for COVID-19 protection | VailDaily.com

Eagle T-shirt shop offers free face masks for COVID-19 protection

JB's T-shirts has manufactured hundreds of masks and is giving them all away to local residents, businesses and organizations

Marilyn Brock collects free face masks from Derek and Stephanie Byron Monday at JB's T-shirts in Eagle. The local company has manufactured hundreds of protective masks and is handing them out for free.
Pam Boyd/pboyd@vaildaily.com

EAGLE — When Gov. Jared Polis issued a recommendation last week that all Coloradans wear a mask when they leave their homes, the folks at JB’s T-shirts in Eagle figured they could help their neighbors comply.

In the past week alone, the T-shirt and embroidery shop has donated more than 500 masks to community members and organizations and is manufacturing more faceguards daily. What’s more, the masks are free for the asking.

“It’s a real need for the community,” said Stephanie Byron of JB’s Ts. “We have the supplies here and honestly, no one is ordering T-shirts or embroidery right now.”

For that reason, JB’s has turned its operation over to mask production and distribution. The shop has already filled some big requests such as orders delivered to the Vail Fire Department, Eagle County and the Eagle City Market. On Monday, the shop started walk-up distribution and will continue to hand out masks from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for as long as the need continues.

Hometown business

JB’s is a family business — launched by Jeff Byron more than two decades ago. Jeff and his wife Sue, along with their son Derek and his wife Stephanie, operate the shop which has churned out countless Mountain Recreation uniforms, business shirts and jackets and other apparel.

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“Making the masks was Jeff and Derek’s idea,” said Sue. Right now she and Jeff are in Hawaii and with COVID-19 restrictions, the couple has decided to ride out the pandemic there rather than trying to travel back to Colorado. Working via email, father and son developed a simple, but effective, mask pattern that features a filter inside two layers of cotton fabric. With a pattern established, Derek and Stephanie spent all last weekend making their initial run of 500 masks.

The masks cover the mouth and nose area and include three earhole options. User instructions tell the wearer to place the mask over his or her nose and mouth and hold it tight against the face to determine which earhole to cut. The masks can be washed and sanitized after each use.

“Hopefully, wearing one of these masks will give people a little more comfort when they go out,” said Sue. “And we want to get them to the people who need them.”

On the heels of the governor’s order, that is just about everyone.

Mask cost: $0

Usually, when a company develops a product that attracts huge demand, it’s a great money-making opportunity. This isn’t one of those times.

“We didn’t feel right about creating something for the community and then saying it’s for sale,” Sue said. “This is something people need and this is the place where we raised our children.”

“We wanted to see what we could do to help the community,” Stephanie said. “There is a lot of negatives happening in the world right now and I think a little positive goes a long way with people.”

JB’s announced its first mask give-away day Monday via the shop’s social media accounts. The news then spread across various platforms. At 9 a.m. Monday about 25 locals, spaced the recommended 6 feet apart, were lined up to collect their face wear. Some of the customers collected masks for family, others for work. A representative from the 5th Judicial District, for example, asked for 15 office masks.

JB’s isn’t charging anyone, whether the request is for one mask or 50 masks, but the business is accepting contributions to its project through Venmo at jbshirts or through a GoFundMe campaign. Each mask is packaged in plastic and the sizing instructions and donation information is included along with a heartfelt message to “take care of yourself and each other.”

To learn more about the mask program, visit the business Facebook page. To pick up free masks stop by the shop at 960 Chambers Avenue, Unit B103 in Eagle between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday or Friday.

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