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MISSION, Kan. — People out of work due to the COVID-19 crisis are learning new skills to help in the fight against the virus.

A group of salon owners and nail techs have traded in their nail files and polish for sewing machines and thread. They’re making masks to help protect front line workers from the coronavirus.

“All you need is to have two hands and a good heart,” Nikki Quach said.

Only one person in the group, which calls itself COVID Mask KC, knew how to sew when they began a week ago. The others, who learned quickly, now make up several groups of ten who have put out 500 masks, all while practicing social distancing.

“Instead of staying home, cooking and get (sic) fat, I come up with idea so everybody has something to do,” Rose Doan, Owner of Bella Romance Salon in Independence, said.

Doan and Trinh Tran, who owns Hot Nails in Clinton, Missouri, came up with the idea of making masks for hospital workers after Tran found out about the shortage in Kansas City.

Tran worked with a friend in the medical field to design masks that could be used in hospitals and by first responders. She then went to several different cities, buying up as many supplies as she could find.

“It has to be 100% cotton. We need flannels and elastic to make the medical masks,” Tran said.

Salon owners and suppliers are also helping to provide hospitals and police departments with other supplies.

Man To, owner of  Quality Nail Supply, donated 22,000 gloves, 40 gallons of alcohol and 2,000 masks to Truman Hospital Friday. Kim and Tom Tang, owners of Nail Perfection Salon and Spa, are one of To’s biggest clients. They helped him deliver the supplies. 

“You know, he can’t really sell it to anybody right now because all the salons are closed, so he wants to help out,” Kim Tang said.

She and her husband have also donated extra supplies, and she is helping with the mask project as well.

“At least I could give back to America, what has [been] given to our family,” Tang said.

COVID Mask KC is hoping the group’s work and donations inspire other salon owners to comb through stock and donate what they can. If you would like to help with donations of product or money, email