Vermont mask spreads message of unity in face of pandemic

Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 4:00 PM EDT
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What started as a way to show "we're all in this together," has now become somewhat of a pandemic slogan for Vermont.

You may have noticed Governor Phil Scott wearing his heart on his face lately.

"It's definitely a sense of pride and sense of accomplishment to see these items out there and to know we had a part in playing a positive role in this," said Ron Henderson, whose company Mitchell Tees & Signs, screen prints the design.

"We have some of the best sewers in the world in our facility," said Sam Hooper, whose company, Vermont Glove, makes the masks. When normal business slowed, Hooper switched from making gloves to masks. It was a way to fill the need for face coverings and to keep his employees on the payroll. "It's a way for people to feel like they're united in something."

The Vermont United idea started on social media. A group of local communications professionals donated their time to create a place where people could share the good things going in the state -- neighbors helping neighbors, signs of hope, and anything to help spread positivity. It caught on and Vermont United became a brand.

and now -- a fundraiser too.

"It's a way to give back to the communities throughout the state to get back on their feet after this," Henderson said.

The group likens it to the Vermont Strong campaign set up after Tropical Storm Irene devastated the state. Mitchell Tees & Signs set up an online store so people can buy the masks and other Vermont United merchandise. Vermont Glove will keep producing the masks at cost.

"If we can make wearing a mask a little bit more fun and a little bit cooler and get more people to stay committed to wearing masks when they are out in public, that's an important thing in curbing the spread of the virus," Hooper said.

"We are willing to keep this up and running and do it as long as we can to continue to support the fund and promote this," Henderson said.

"Coronavirus is a persistent, brutal thing that's impacted a lot of lives, impacted economies, and obviously the health, and we've lost 56 Vermonters. It's going to require that everyone stay committed and stand together in this," Hooper said.