After the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the spring semester, one Millsaps student decided to use the free time she had to help health care providers stay safe.
Haley Knudson, a rising senior from Millsaps, teamed up with her mother and brother to make more than 200 masks this semester for the pediatric staff at University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.
“We collected lots of fun kid-friendly fabrics to work with and began an assembly line of sorts,” Knudson said. “I would cut the fabric, my brother would iron and fold it, then finally my mom would sew them together with her machine.”
After most of the country was encouraged to wear facial coverings in public to help prevent the spread of respiratory droplets, masks became difficult to come by for both hospitals and the everyday buyer. As a result, most medical masks, such as the N95, began being reserved for use by hospitals and health care workers. Yet a shortage still existed.
Knowing that many healthcare workers lacked access to masks that would provide protection against the spread of contagious illnesses, Knudson’s family got to work. Her mother, an avid crafter, already had stashes of fabric ready to be put to good use. Most fabrics they used had colorful designs of different cartoon and Disney characters to brighten the days of both the staff and their patients.
“It made me really happy to know how many people I was helping, especially in such uncertain times. I’ve always loved helping people and this project gave my mom and I a sense of purpose while we were stuck at home,” Knudson said.
She also encourages others to reach out to those who may be in need, both to help others and to find a sense of productivity and purpose when many people are stuck in times of uncertainty and worry at home.
“You can always find a way to help, even if it doesn’t seem like much to you,” Knudson said. “Not only will you help others, it will make these times easier for you knowing that you have made the best of it. You can look back and see that you made a difference.”
With Millsaps College announcing May 13 that plans are being developed to have students back on campus in Fall 2020, a future of students wearing masks when in the classroom is becoming a likely possibility, meaning that Haley’s newfound skills in mask-making may continue to serve herself and others well.
To learn how to make a cloth mask, either with or without sewing, visit the CDC website or follow this link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-make-cloth-face-covering.html