Chloe wearing a mask

Chloe, age 9, uses newfound sewing talent to create face masks to reduce spread of the coronavirus

Young Girl Gives Back by Sewing Face Masks During COVID-19

Shielded behind a fabric face mask, the big smile of a little helper shines through the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nine-year-old Chloe, who finds respite at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Muncie, is doing her part to support her community in central Indiana by sewing face coverings to reduce spread of the coronavirus.

Sometimes, Chloe is so glued to the sewing machine that Club staff gently remind her to share it with other children. In finding a way to help, Chloe has also discovered a new talent that she loves.

“Chloe has realized that she has something to give and offer to others,” said Jason Newman, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Muncie. “It’s incredible to see her take pride in doing something for another rather than feel like everyone is always doing something for her.”

Boys & Girls Clubs of Muncie is open solely for children whose caregivers must report to work as healthcare providers, emergency personnel, food distributors and other essential services. Because Chloe’s parents are incarcerated, her grandmother has few options to ensure she stays safe while schools are closed.

Seventy-nine percent of Boys & Girls Clubs of Muncie’s regular members live with someone other than two parents, and 44 percent live with a single parent. The Club sites are located in underserved, impoverished areas of Muncie that are plagued by drug and crime issues, Jason said.

The Club is serving almost 20 kids during the pandemic, and capacity is limited to 30 youth so they can maintain a safe distance from each other. For regular Club members that can stay at home, staff are calling to check in and even deliver bottled water, diapers and groceries.

Using the single sewing machine that belongs to a Club staff member, youth have sewed 63 masks in the first weeks of the new project. Each child fashioned the mask that they are wearing at the Club, and the remaining masks from the initial batch were donated to the Youth Opportunity Center, a juvenile detention center and residential treatment center for at-risk youth in Muncie.

In early April, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that individuals wear masks to cover their mouths in grocery stores, pharmacies and other public settings where it’s difficult to maintain social distancing, or a 6-foot separation between people. As more masks are completed, the Club hopes to donate them to an indigent health clinic and elderly individuals in neighborhoods near the Club.

Kevin Holland, a board member for Boys & Girls Clubs of Muncie and a Club alumnus, said this is a critical time for giving back to the community that typically does so much to support the Club. The Club is also seizing opportunities to teach kids to care for one another.

Home made mask


“We all need each other right now. We are teaching the kids that just because we have to stay home or stay inside, we can still make a difference,” Kevin said. “You don’t have to necessarily be out in the community physically to make an impact.”

Jason, who sewed his mask by hand, said Club staff are also taking advantage of the additional time spent with kids to explore new activities that could instill positive hobbies and skills for future success. In addition to sewing, staff have taught lessons in theater and drumming.

Club youth surrounded by difficult circumstances often feel like they don’t have sufficient resources to give back to their community, Jason said. One thing they can give is their time, especially during extended periods of social distancing.

For Chloe, days and weeks of the pandemic are passing by while she stays focused on sewing masks.

“She will always be able to point to this time and say ‘When there was an emergency, I did this to help,’” Jason said.

Learn more about how Clubs are serving their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

 

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