Moguls Team-Up on Virus-Fighting Masks

Staff Report From Metro Atlanta CEO

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

A pair of hitmaking Atlanta-based celebrities is partnering with local “sewists” to fashion thousands of protective mask coverings for MARTA employees working on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.

Through their respective non-profit foundations, Grammy winners Ludacris and Mike Will Made-It are collaborating with Carla “Nikki G” Griffin, founder of Atlanta Sewing Style. The coalition of artists and artisans plans to finish 3,000 masks in two weeks. 

The donated coverings are washable and reusable and will help extend the life of surgical masks MARTA is distributing to employees on an ongoing basis. 

When the virus first hit, Griffin partnered with others in the sewing community and launched Sewing Masks for Area Hospitals-Atlanta (SMAH), enlisting dozens of homebound sewists to make masks for hospital workers. Funded by donations from hip-hop star Future’s Freewishes Foundation,  SMAH has produced more than 30,000 masks for Grady Hospital, Emory University Hospital and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta as well as hospitals and other facilities nationwide. 

To acknowledge and help protect heroes working at MARTA, the Ludacris Foundation and Mike Williams’ Making Wishes Matter (MWM) Foundation have since stepped forward and made donations to purchase mask-making materials and supplies.

“We love our city, and this is an opportunity to show how much we do when it matters most,” said rapper/actor Chris Bridges who stars in “The Fast and the Furious” film franchise and whose eponymous foundation serves local youth and families. “Before coronavirus happened, we were representing MARTA because it’s a big part of what makes Atlanta special.” 

Since 2014, the MWM Foundation has hosted community-based philanthropic activities benefitting low-income youth and seniors. Its Marietta-born founder is best known for producing numerous hits for top musical acts including Beyonce, Rihanna, Rae Sremmurd, and Miley Cyrus.

“This is our hometown and we always want to help people when we can,” said Williams. “There are so many people depending on MARTA to get where they’re going. We want to make sure employees who are keeping Atlanta moving can do their jobs safely.”

The colorful cotton masks are being constructed using pre-approved materials. Lakeside Marine Canvas, a sail-making company in Buford, GA, has volunteered its staff and equipment to cut the mask patterns to speed production. 

MARTA General Manager and CEO Jeffrey Parker was thankful for the outpouring of goodwill from celebrity supporters, and various individuals, businesses and organizations that have come forward in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“On behalf of our hardworking employees, I’m grateful for this show of support.” Parker said. “Before this health crisis hit, MARTA had been building relationships with metro Atlanta’s entertainment community. Their thoughtful contributions are deeply appreciated. This gives us added confidence that we’ll get through this together.”