A number of Centre College students who remain on campus are joining the community effort to prepare mask kits for those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Assisting the Facebook group “Masks for our Healthcare Workers Danville Boyle County,” the volunteer initiative has collectively provided over 4,100 masks to the local community and also generously donated 92 masks to the students still on campus.
The 10 Centre students working on the project have prepared a total of 76 mask sets themselves, which includes preparation of fabric for those volunteers who will be sewing them.
“I knew about the work that the community group was doing and had been thinking about ways we could get our Bonners who are still on campus involved,” said Jessica Weasner, director of community service & the Bonner Program. “After talking with some of my Student Life colleagues and Mindy Wilson from the Center for Career & Professional Development (CCPD), who is one of the leaders of the Facebook group, I had the idea of putting together kits to distribute to any student on campus who wanted to help.
“I was concerned that our students, like many of us, were probably feeling cut-off from the world and helpless in the face of this global pandemic,” Weasner continued. “I wanted to give them an opportunity to engage in this meaningful community work while adhering to social distancing guidelines and recognizing the new challenges that online coursework has brought. While cutting out fabric might not seem like much, it’s an essential part of this community effort, and I hope it helps our students feel connected to something larger and empowered to make a difference.”
Weasner said she was overwhelmed by the response she received.
“I sent out the email asking for volunteers before I had the kits ready, so I was rushing around trying to find scissors and get fabric washed and organized,” she added. “It’s been great to see our community come together to support this effort. I was also incredibly moved by two of the students offering to donate surgical masks, that they had previously purchased, to our local health department.”
Anthropology and environmental studies double major Hannah DiDomenico ’22 (Danville, Kentucky) is one student who has been contributing to the need for masks in the community. She and her mom have made a total of 43 masks together.
“Over the past few months, I have read stories about how COVID-19 has affected families in different ways,” DiDomenico said. “I think there is a lot of misconceptions among young and healthy people that the virus is not much of a threat among their communities. I wanted to make masks to emphasize the importance of addressing the problem, even if it doesn’t directly affect you.”
Studio art major Zenghao (Andy) Zhang ’21 (Shanghai, China) has cut fabric for eight masks and says that, through this, he feels more connected to the community. In addition to making sets, he has also donated several masks to local healthcare workers.
“My parents are in China now, and they got some masks mailed to me,” he said. “I knew I couldn’t use them all by myself, and my parents also suggested to me to give some to those who don’t have them.”
Weasner said she thinks students contributing to this effort reinforces the fact that they really are a part of the local community.
“While they may not live here full time, this is home to them for the majority of the year,” she concluded. “They want opportunities to connect, to be involved and to be a resource when possible.”
by Kerry Steinhofer
April 22, 2020