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Nash County 4-H Sews, Provides PPE to Help Fight COVID-19

cloth masks

Difficult times have become universal for Americans as we all come together in the fight against COVID-19. One of the more difficult challenges we face is gathering enough personal protective equipment for at-risk communities.

In response to these challenging times, people across the state — including Nash County 4-H’ers — have banded together in collaborative efforts to fight the novel coronavirus. 

The opportunity for 4-H’ers to aid in the fight against the pandemic arose when an employee of a local JOANN store approached Jane Tyson, the volunteer leader of Nash County’s Sew What? 4-H Club. The employee offered Tyson the fabric, elastic and threads necessary for her and her club members to make masks on a larger scale. Tyson knew that her advanced sewing group would be up to the task.

“The ones that are helping me are ones that have been in the club for quite a few years, and they are my better seamstresses,” Tyson said. 

Megan Garciga, a high school student, was one of those seamstresses. She was honored to be a part of an initiative that could potentially help save lives while also allowing her to participate in 4-H activities once again.

“There was a learning curve at first,” Garciga said. “Usually, when I’m learning new projects, I either have the internet or I watch Miss Jane right there to help answer questions or just show me visual guides. With this, I was kind of like, ‘I think I know how to do this.’ I kind of winged it at first, and it did not turn out great. Jane and I were kind of going back and forth over text. That’s how I corrected my mistakes and got it right. That was very different for me because I’m very much a visual learner. 

“Doing it now, it’s so easy. Your hands just kind of memorize the different steps,” Garciga continued. “I feel like I’ve gotten it down pretty good.”

The Nash County 4-H members are not alone in their efforts to help flatten the curve. The NC State-affiliated North Carolina Extension & Community Association has also collaborated with at-risk communities to get them the protection they need.

The North Carolina ECA has been determining the amount of resources counties need and distributing supplies. Additionally, the North Carolina ECA website page has been an invaluable source for COVID-19 information. 

These efforts to bring personal protective equipment to more people in North Carolina are having tangible impacts in communities across the state. The masks made by the Nash County 4-H members are currently being used in the Spring Arbor Senior Living Community in Rocky Mount and the Nash General Hospital. 

Garciga encourages others to get involved in helping their communities, especially those that are at-risk, during this challenging time. Garciga and her fellow 4-H members are just one example of the many ways in which people can help aid their communities. 

Consider “making masks or donating resources,” Garciga suggested. “I know some people have been making hospital gowns. Figure out what you can do to help and do it.”

4-H and NC State Extension are hard at work in communities across North Carolina.

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NOTE: The masks that Nash County 4-H and ECA members are making are going directly to their local medical care workers. Next up, they’ll be making ones for the Wake County Extension staff members working with their county’s public food distribution programs.

While the masks won’t be available for the public, those who are in need of a protective mask can learn how to make one by watching an instructional video that Davidson County 4-H’er Sydney Loflin developed. Loflin has made several herself that she’s donated to local nursing homes and health-care workers.