University of Arizona community members have found purpose during the COVID-19 pandemic through making masks to donate and sharing mask-making tips with others.
Arizona students minoring in fashion have created how-to videos for creating masks out of everyday items at home. “I was receiving emails from various students about having anxiety and a feeling of no control over their lives,” says Charlette Padilla, associate professor of practice in the university’s John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences.
“I decided to give them a project that they could finish and feel proud of. Giving back control over their learning can help combat feelings of helplessness.”
The students shared a range of ideas. Lauren Best in the College of Fine Arts demonstrated how to make a mask from a long-sleeved shirt. Jordyn Clarke in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences made a no-sew cotton face mask with hair ties for straps. And Brittany Faubel in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences crafted a mask from a reusable shopping bag and ribbon.
“I was inspired by the idea of helping people, but making it fashionable as well as eco-friendly,” says Clarke. “We consume and throw away so many masks, so making masks that can be washed and reused reduces our carbon footprint.”
Meanwhile, in the School of Theatre, Film & Television, master of fine arts students Rachel Wilkins, Elizabeth Eaton and Ryan B. Moore, along with Maryann Trombino-Arthur, manager of the school’s Costume Shop, are sewing cloth masks to donate.
The group provided masks to a local hospital and was contacted by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department and the Tucson Police Department Emergency Response Team as well as multiple assisted living communities, veterinarians’ offices and other organizations, with requests for masks.
Wilkins says the effort has allowed her to not feel helpless during a time of crisis.
“Finding out that I can help those who actually can do something was an enormous relief and has given me a renewed purpose,” she says. “The skills I have learned through my years of school have given me the tools I need to make these masks, and donating them lets us show those combating COVID-19 that we are thankful to help them in any way we can.”
Wilkins says the team is making shell-style masks that have dual layers, allowing users to fit them over surgical or N95 masks. The team also is working on a mask-making tutorial in hopes that others will make and donate masks.
“I could not be more proud of our students and faculty for contributing their time and talent to address this critical need,” says Hank Stratton, artistic director of the Arizona Repertory Theatre in the School of Theatre, Film & Television. “We are grateful for the opportunity to serve our community in a time of crisis and hope we can set the stage for others to do the same.”