DeKalb couple creating facemasks to help protect frontline workers during coronavirus

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By Candice Guthrie

DeKalb County residents David and Karren Manuel are providing protective masks for frontline personnel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Co-founders of The I Am A Father 5K, Inc. nonprofit, which focuses on Strengthening Families One Mile At A Time, the couple decided to get involved after reading how healthcare workers everywhere were having trouble finding masks as COVID-19 spreads around the country.

“I saw on social media that there was a #millionmaskchallenge and thought that this was something we could do to help. My sister is a nurse at both, Grady and Emory hospitals, and I knew this would be helpful,” said Karren Manuel.

With the help of Karren’s mother, Brenda Miles, a retired seamstress, they got to work creating masks. The masks are double-sided with one side being 100% cotton and the other made with duck cloth, a more closely-knit fabric to help keep particles out and help masks last longer through wear and tear. The masks are reusable and washable. There is also a space on one side to add an extra layer of protection, such as another mask, if you wish.

David and Karren recently delivered boxes of masks to hospitals within the city of Atlanta and Decatur, including DeKalb Medical, Piedmont and Emory.

“My daughter, who went to school in San Francisco, posted about our masks on her social media and it was seen by one of her friends who asked if we would send out masks and we did,” said Karren.

After that, they began getting requests from other hospitals from all over the country. To date, they have sent masks to Los Angeles, New York City, Oakland, Louisiana, San Francisco and Miami.

Healthcare professionals are not the only recipients of these free masks. The I Am a Father 5K, Inc. is providing masks for all frontline personnel who sacrifice their own health and safety for others. They recently received an order from the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department.

Non-essential workers are able to purchase masks. The masks are $15 each for local deliveries and $17.50 each, if shipped.

To place an order, visit or visit their Instagram or Facebook pages @Iamafather5k and send them a direct message to inquire about masks.


If you have a story to pitch or picture you would like to share with On Common Ground News readers for our “Life With COVID-19 Pandemic,” please e-mail We welcome first-person stories as well as stories about interesting and impactful things that are going on in your communities during the pandemic.  


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