Grace, left, and Audrey Kosla work on face masks at the family's home in Orinda. (Photo by Sam Richards)

What started as a “fun project” for two sewing sisters during the ongoing coronavirus emergency has grown into a humanitarian effort involving the sisters, their family, and a group of 15 to 20 friends, so far creating and donating about 200 cloth face masks to area hospitals, senior care homes and individuals.

Larissa Kosla of Orinda said her daughters, Audrey and Grace Kosla — both avid sewing fans — recently received from one of their aunts a link showing how to sew fabric into the sort of face masks that have been immensely popular, and in some places, mandatory when going out into public.

“I thought this would be a fun project for the kids,” Larissa said.

The girls took to it quickly. It soon became something much bigger. First came a request from a close friend, a nurse at Kaiser Permanente’s Oakland hospital, for masks to use there. And a few days later, on March 16 — the day seven Bay Area counties issued a joint shelter-in-place order to help curb the spread of the coronavirus — Larissa posted about the masks on her Facebook page.

“Then it just exploded,” Larissa said.

Audrey Kosla works on a mask in her Orinda home. As of April 16, the Koslas had made about 150 masks.

Kaiser would take all the masks the Kosla family could give them. The girls’ father, Orinda City Councilman Nick Kosla, promised his mother some masks for use at the Orange County senior care center she owns. Friends asked for masks, too. Pretty soon, there were requests for 100 masks.

“We already had the patterns going, and we got right to work,” Audrey said.

But the Koslas realized they couldn’t meet the demand by themselves. Audrey said she talked to her friends who sew; they, and some of their parents, joined in with the cutting, pinning and sewing.

“By the end of the first day, we had 75 masks,” Larissa said.

Grace Kosla cuts fabric used to make face masks at the family’s Orinda home.

As of April 16, the Koslas had made about 150 masks, and a day hasn’t gone by that Audrey and Grace haven’t sewn at least a few masks.

An additional 60 or so masks have been donated by friends for donation to hospitals, senior care centers and others who need them. Nick has taken several to Orinda city employees, and delivery people who call on the Koslas are offered masks. They’re generally accepted eagerly, Larissa said.

As long as the coronavirus emergency continues, there will be a need for the simple masks.

“We’ll do it as long as this goes on,” Grace said.