All around the world, a shortage of facemasks is prompting concern for health care workers. This global shortage is due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Nobody was prepared for the number of supplies that would be needed for health care facilities sparking a global movement of people sewing facemasks to help out.
One Haughton High teacher decided she would join in and teach her students how to sew the masks as well. On March 19, after getting permission from the Haughton High Principal, Bitsy Cliburn reached out to her students and asked how many had sewing machines at home. She was surprised to hear many of them did. Cliburn created video tutorials for her students so they could make facemasks at home. Now, she and her students have made over 40 masks.
“I am so proud of my students for taking on this responsibility, even though there’s no grade involved; it’s completely voluntary, and yet they’ve jumped on board,” Cliburn said. “My masks have gone out locally and I have shipped some to West Monroe. It’s an ongoing process.”
Cliburn has even had several former students ask if they can help. One of her former students lives in Ohio with his wife and baby. He reached out to her to ask what kind of sewing machine to buy, and now he is making masks.
While these hand-sewn masks are not medical grade, they can still act as a barrier and help prolong the life of the surgical masks that are being used. They can buy time until more surgical masks can be supplied. Cliburn is happy to use her sewing skills to help in any way she can.
“I heard about the shortage of masks and knew I could use my God-given gifts to help. If I’m stuck at home at least I can do SOMETHING to help win this war on COVID-19. Many of the nurses who have asked me for masks are my precious former students. It’s personal, and I’m praying for the safety of the individuals who will wear the masks even as I make them.”
At Haughton High, Cliburn teaches Family & Consumer Science (AKA Home Ec.) for 10-12th grade. She has been sewing for nearly 40 years and hopes to pass on her love for creating things to her students. She wants them to know they are truly making a difference.
“First, it’s important for them to realize that even though they’re young, they CAN make a difference,” Cliburn said. “It also gives them something tangible to DO while they’re cooped up at home. Some of them are making masks with family members, which provides more quality family time. I believe it will help to keep their minds from being fearful of everything that’s going on if their hands are busy.”
All the masks that Cliburn and her students make are for individual healthcare workers who have asked for them. She hopes healthcare professionals know how much they are appreciated.
“I hope that they are given protection from the virus, but I also hope that it lifts their spirits to know that people care about them and appreciate the difficult and potentially dangerous work that they are doing.”
If you want to start sewing facemasks, you can watch Cliburn’s video tutorial on Facebook for more information.