In a time of need, members of the Waxahachie ISD family have stepped up to combat the shortage of medical masks.
Maria White is a paraprofessional in the life skills classroom at Waxahachie High School and answered the call for masks the week after spring break.
Once WHS principal Tonya Harris caught wind of the homemade masks, she considered the protection for staff and asked White to sew them for teachers, administrators, and cafeteria and transportation employees.
Two broken sewing machines later, White and her mother crafted 50 masks.
Meanwhile, other members of the WISD family created masks for communities outside WISD.
Wilemon STEAM Academy third-grade teacher Randi Loafman sewed about 200 masks for hospitals, nursing homes, and even a family whose 4-year-old daughter has leukemia.
"The family whose daughter has leukemia — sorry, it's kind of hard for me to talk about," Loafman said over the phone. "I didn't know this family, and I immediately contacted them and drove the masks to Mansfield."
"We don't realize that families depend on this type of thing," she continued. "They depend on masks to live, to keep their families safe, and to keep their daughter safe — she's fighting cancer and going through treatment."
"It was really humbling for me," she added. "I was so thankful I was able to get in touch with them because they are fighting so bravely, this little girl is fighting cancer so bravely. She needs to be protected."
Most of the donations went to Ellis County residents, but Loafman's masks were shipped as far as San Antonio, Michigan, and Georgia.
Loafman worked on the masks during spring break and was able to purchase elastic that she said is currently sold out. Loafman is well known in the community after hosting kids sewing camps each summer. She utilized her Facebook platform to communicate and is now partnering up with WISD occupational therapist Kourtney East to sew an additional 100 masks for the Maypearl-based nonprofit Bellanne Butterfly Blessings.
Loafman even inspired Wedgeworth Elementary assistant principal Jessica Nelson to make masks — and she is just getting started. Nelson made 20 masks to begin and will donate her masks to a hospital. She got a later start but has practiced creativity when crafting.
"I use fabric, and then I cut spandex into strips to use in place of elastic because stores are sold out," Nelson explained.
Nelson strongly considers the safety of healthcare professionals and their families since her aunt is a nurse and her a brother-in-law that is a doctor.
Since she's made the masks, "I've seen the community come together through sewing masks. People have donated elastic and fabric to each other to help out."
JD Delay, a Wilemon fifth-grade student, extended his spring break stay at his grandmother's house. Between distance learning activities, grandma taught Delay home economics.
Delay eagerly spoke on the phone about his unorthodox school days, where he learned to cook chili, experience horticulture first-hand, and succeeded in driving 10 feet in his grandfather's Chevy.
He also learned to iron while making masks for the Veterans Affairs clinic in Tyler.
Delay feels it is vital to "Not just [help] with the masks, but with everything. The world is in a really weird state. This has never really happened before. So we have to do what we can to help each other."
Delay has some experience with a needle and thread after he gave his fourth-grade teacher a hand-sewn gift. He is working on the first mask and has optimistic plans to manufacture 50 to 100.
JD even persuaded a neighbor to get in on the action to produce faster.
Efforts behind these individuals will make a difference in in the world by slowing the spread of COVID-19.