BLOOMINGTON — Sometimes the most difficult part of giving back to the community is figuring out how to manage a needle and thread.
“But once you know how to sew, you’ll get it done,” said Bradley Ross Jackson, president of Kids Who Serve, a Bloomington 4-H Club that donated more than 200 handmade masks for those who can’t find them, make them or afford them in Bloomington-Normal.
“I saw that the coronavirus was occurring in our community and I wanted to assist others by making masks since it’s a respiratory disease and it can go through somebody’s nose or mouth, and I truly care about the well-being for everybody,” 14-year-old Jackson said.
Club volunteer Willie Holton Halbert was trying to keep up with the latest coronavirus news when she saw a tutorial for making a washable cloth mask to wear in public, as recommended by state and local health officials.
She passed on what she learned. With donated supplies from a few volunteers, the kids got to work.
“We’re just excited to be part of the solution in the midst of everything and having our children actually contribute to our community, to those that are in need,” Holton Halbert said. “I’m just thrilled.”
The kids “divided and conquered,” depending on how much they thought they could handle, said Linda White, director of the club, which is based at Mount Pisgah Baptist Church.
“So this is an idea that was generated by the kids and they just wanted to give back and let the community know that they’re there, they’re present and they are doing something,” she said.
White said the project gave the kids the opportunity to step up, become leaders and see the impact of hard work.
“We are going to encourage them to continue to do that because they can stay focused and follow directions, look at the end product, (and answer) what are we doing and why are we doing it? And this is something that they’re really proud of,” White said.
Ten-year-old Zaniah Nelson made 20 masks, the most of all the children, because this project “is important to help the community and I like to help.”
With leftover fabric and more requests coming in, Kids Who Serve will likely continue to make more masks as needed because “not only are you making them to help, but actually it could save lives,” Holton Halbert said.
Jackson said club members want to help as many people as possible to keep everyone safe and protected.
“I realize that the coronavirus is affecting the African American community at a disproportionate rate so we need to protect ourselves by adhering to the CDC guidelines and our governor’s protocol and recommendation,” he said. “So make sure to stay at home, wash your hands frequently, social distance and wear a mask in public.”
Contact Kelsey Watznauer at (309) 820-3254. Follow her on Twitter: @kwatznauer.
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