Sam Campbell

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (April 23, 2020) — Now through April 24, Fort Leonard Wood units are competing in a COVID-19 mask-making contest.

Organized by Fort Leonard Wood Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, the event was born out of an effort to help provide masks to community members, said Katy Carter, FMWR Business and Recreation chief.

“FMWR thought creating some healthy competition … would help uplift the community during this difficult time,” she said. “We have so many talented and crafty families that were looking for ways to get involved. We will be distributing the masks to various locations on post so families within our community have easy access to masks at no cost.”

Coupons and gift certificates will be awarded to the winning team.

“We have coupons for FMWR facilities up for grabs – once we are able to start working toward reopening programs, we wanted to offer families a discount to many of the great activities we have,” Carter said. “Let us not forget about the bragging rights for the winning unit.”

The five competing teams are: Engineer (1st Engineer Brigade, 5th Engr. Bde. and the Engineer School), Chemical (3rd Chemical Bde., the Chemical School and 58th Transportation Battalion), Military Police (14th MP Bde. and the MP School), the Interservice Training Review Organization and the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Garrison Headquarters.

Carter said interested participants should follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tips when making their masks.

“We are asking that masks be sewn with two pieces of cotton fabric,” she said. “We want to ensure they follow the CDC guidelines, such as allowing for snug fit, be secured with ties or ear loops, include multiple layers of fabric, allow for breathing without restriction and be able to be laundered and machine-dried without damage or change to shape.”

FMWR Services and Support Chief Megan O’Donoghue said she began fashioning the protective pieces before the idea evolved into the contest it is now.

“It started out as a way to support our FMWR Child Care staff that are still very much on the frontline taking care of children so mission-critical personnel can continue to support the COVID-19 mission,” she said. “As I made them, more and more people reached out, asking if I could make one for them, and I realized there was a need beyond CYS. It became a small way in which I felt that I could support the Fort Leonard Wood community.”

Carter, on the other hand, joked about being a “terrible seamstress,” but said she is happy to support the collection and distribution of masks.

O’Donoghue has completed about 100 masks in total, but there’s still much more work to be done, she said.

“That is a small drop in the bucket of those that are needed, so the FMWR Mask Contest will help grow those numbers and be able to help more people feel safe and secure as they go about their day amongst the current environment,” she said.

In accordance with social-distancing protocols, no large gatherings are planned to be held, but that shouldn’t take away from the spirit of the contest, Carter said.

“For many, this can be a very anxious time, but we at Family and MWR want to continue to create that connection to our community and offer some positivity and happiness through these events,” she said. “We hope these events create unity despite having to be virtual.”

Materials for the masks will need to be acquired or purchased by each participant, but clean, recycled cloth, such as an old t-shirt, can suffice, Carter said.

Brigades will serve as mask-collection points over the next week, and all masks should be dropped off in individual zip-top bags. Masks need to be delivered by 10 a.m. April 24 to FMWR Headquarters, Building 470, Room 1103 for the final tally. The winning team will be announced shortly thereafter.

Carter reminded all community members to wear masks when entering the Commissary and Post Exchange locations.

For more information on getting involved in the contest, call FMWR at 573.596.0241.

Staff Sgt. Kyle Whitelaw, 509th Clearance Company, models a mask that was sewn by an informal support group, “Sewing for Others.” Whitelaw is currently serving as a sergeant of the guard, in charge of all Soldiers at the Fort Leonard Wood installation access control points which are manned by the 5th Engineer Battalion. (Photo courtesy of the 509th Clearance Company)


About Fort Leonard Wood

Fort Leonard Wood is a thriving and prosperous installation that has evolved from a small basic training post more than 75 years ago to a premier Army Center of Excellence that trains more than 80,000 military and civilians each year.

Fort Leonard Wood is home to the U.S Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and three U.S. Army schools: the U.S. Army Engineer School; U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School; and the U.S. Army Military Police School. In addition to training engineer, CBRN and military police specialties for the Army, Fort Leonard Wood also provides gender-integrated in-processing and Basic Combat Training for new Soldiers.

Fort Leonard Wood also hosts and trains with the largest Marine Corps Detachment and Air Force Squadron on any Army installation as well as a large Navy construction detachment.

More information about Fort Leonard Wood is at: