The week after spring break, the costume design department of the School of Theatre started to sew masks to donate to healthcare facilities and providers.

“Last week I saw that many people were posting on Facebook that they were making masks for hospitals,” Angela Bacarisse, professor of design and management, said.  “Then, Deaconess Hospital in Indiana posted a CDC-approved pattern and asked for help.  I reached out to the SFA School of Nursing to see if they had a need and who to contact at the local hospitals.  Almost simultaneously the costume shop supervisor, Barbara Blackwell, contacted me to see if I thought it was a good idea to do this.  Great minds think alike was my response.”

Blackwell said there is a volunteer effort to make these masks, and more people are joining in to help.

“We had discussed the possibility of using this project for an online project for our costume construction class but decided not too since it was not reasonable to ask our students to come up with the materials or equipment to do so,” Blackwell said. “Sewing is not a common skill anymore and most households do not even have common sewing notions. But [Bacarisse] and I soon decided to take in another direction with a team of sewing volunteers. We have about 16 volunteers, and people are contacting [Bacarisse] daily to see if they can contribute.  She’s even had people from out of town asking to help.”

The homemade masks are not meant to replace the CDC-recommended N95 masks, Bacarisse said.

“They are meant to be used as covers for N95 in order to help them last longer,” Bacarisse said. “Several of ours have pockets into which you can place an N95 or some other filter.  Some can be worn over the mask.  Many may be used by themselves, but the CDC does not recommend that at this time.

According to Bacarisse, the masks are also not being mailed out, but rather staying local in Nacogdoches.

“We don't want anyone going to the hospital who does not need to go there,” Bacarisse said. “Our masks are for those healthcare professionals who need them.  Hospitals, hospice, nursing homes or doctor's offices. We are not putting them in the mail, so most likely they will stay local as someone needs to come pick them up.”

Blackwell said the first donation was made on March 24, and more donations have been made since then.

“So far, over 150 masks and two dozen caps have been donated thanks to all the hard work of our volunteers,” Blackwell said. “We are grateful to be able to support our health care community in this way.”

According to Bacarisse, the costume department will continue making masks as long as there is a need for them.

Meredith Janning has worked on The Pine Log since her second semester at Stephen F. Austin. During her time at The Pine Log, Meredith has held the positions of staff writer and news editor.

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