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4-H Groups Make Masks For Those In Need

Females hands using the sewing machine to sew a face mask during the coronavirus pandemic.
Females hands using the sewing machine to sew a face mask during the coronavirus pandemic.

More businesses, and even some communities, are requiring people to wear masks. But getting ahold of one can be difficult. Now 4-H, a life skills youth organization, is teaching its members to make masks. They’ll be distributed to those in need.

Geralyn Sachs is a 4-H agent who works with youth in Central Florida. She’s been helping young people learn how to make masks they can wear, or give away, to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. She says the idea came from Tallahassee.

"We were initially contacted by the emergency operations folks in Tallahassee with their outreach programs," Sachs said. "They were thinking that there would be an anticipated need for the face masks."

Sachs says 4-H already teaches kids how to sew but this was a chance to put their skills to use.

"Through that sewing project, there is engineering skills they’re using, there is problem-solving skills, there’s creativity," Sachs said. "There’s all these different life skills that they get through doing that project."

4-H has groups all over Florida, and so far 18 are participating. John Lilley is the Director of the 4-H group in Jefferson County. He says his members have made more than 250 masks for nursing homes in the area.

“Before we even started making masks I reached out to the directors of both of the nursing homes and they were just overwhelmed," Lilley said. "They were ecstatic ... because at that particular time everybody was low on PPE.”

Christell Walker lives in Jefferson County. Her daughter took part in the project and even took it a step further.

"She went to sewing camp there a month ago. But none of the masks, she even made masks personally too and just gave them away we didn’t charge anybody for any masks," Walker said.

In Wakulla County, 4-H Agent Rachel Pienta says her group is doing the same. She says so far a lot of 4-Hers have signed up to help.

"One of our club leaders started making masks and some of our members who had learned from her started making masks as well," Pienta said. "So that’s my volunteer Karen James, so she’s got a club of youth that get together and do different sewing projects. And then on top of that, we also had some of our youth from other clubs who said, I’m at home and I know how to sew I’d like to do this as well."

Pienta anyone who needs a mask should contact a 4-H group nearby via Facebook.

"A lot of us have been communicating and saying here’s where you can go to get a mask if you aren’t close to someone. That way you can put it in the mail, you can go to a place of business that has them," Pienta said. "So it might not be that you get one directly from one of my 4-H youth, but it’s likely that we can connect you to someone near where you are so you don’t have to travel far and you can get that mask you need."

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