North Carolina Teen is Sewing Face Masks for Hospitals Short on N95

Marina Nichols, 15, is sewing homemade face masks to donate to local hospitals running low on supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic. Kim Nichols KIM NICHOLS

Marina Nichols doesn’t yet have her driver’s license nor her own car, but she’s combating the coronavirus pandemic armed with another piece of machinery: Her aunt’s hand-me-down sewing machine, which she’s using to craft homemade face masks for North Carolina hospitals that run out of high-grade N95 respirator masks.

“Everyone’s talking about (the coronavirus),” Nichols said. “It’s all you see online these days about what’s happening and here’s what you can do to help.”

Nichols, 15, said she came across a post on the Nextdoor social networking app last week that called for “Seamstresses, material, and elastic to make masks.” The self-taught seamstress, who honed her skills by sewing costumes for student theater productions, responded to her community’s call for help.

“I was kind of feeling like I wasn’t really doing anything because there are some things that are obviously hard for a teenager to do when you can’t drive, or things like that,” Nichols said. “But I saw a need that had to be met and I felt like I could adequately help fulfill that need.”

The Huntersville teen is among dozens of individuals who responded to the post by Huntersville resident Kristen Nardone. Nardone said in the post that she was coordinating with a friend who works as a nurse at Atrium Health to deliver the masks to the proper destinations. (An instructional video can be found here.)

Marina Nichols, 15, is sewing homemade face masks to donate to local hospitals running low on supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Nardone said she had spoken with about 75 people who want to contribute to the cause, but currently has a lot more material than skilled labor.

“I need more sewers that I could give that stuff to and have them making (the masks),” Nardone said in an email.

Homemade face masks are listed as a “last resort” option by the CDC, behind face shields and ventilated headboards. However, as hospitals across the nation grapple with shortages of the personal protective equipment (PPE) for treating COVID-19, especially in heavily populated areas, alternative solutions are becoming more common.

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SOURCE: Charlotte Observer, Alex Andrejev