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ADA – In the midst of a global pandemic, some East Central University students are utilizing their skills to help keep local healthcare workers protected.

ECU Human Development, Hospitality and Food Science (HHFS) students are making sewn fabric face masks for local hospital personnel. The masks will help curb the unnecessary spread of germs and disease in those medically sensitive environments. The ECU student organization of Family and Consumer Sciences is also assisting with the effort.

“The idea for this project started when ECU had to take classes online due to the pandemic,” said Jan Long, HHFS instructor. “Since I teach an apparel design and construction class, the idea was perfect. The students were all in, even though some won’t have access to sewing machines. They just want to help the project in any way they can.”

Long has made arrangements to get cotton and elastic, the two ingredients of the face masks, to students off campus. Before that she has to secure materials, which has been an adventure all its own. For example, elastic – in short supply locally – is currently coming from McAlester.

“This is very exciting to be able to help make a difference during such a difficult time,” Long said. “Everyone is helping make this pandemic more bearable by working together.”

Long’s students are working from their homes making the face masks – one as far away as Arkansas. Once a student has a batch of masks finished, Long will arrange to pick them up in a manner that honors social distancing guidelines. She will then transport them to local hospitals in sealed plastic bags, where they can immediately be sterilized in a washing machine before use.

Long said her students would be making and delivering face masks throughout April, striving toward a goal of 400 masks. Although she doesn’t anticipate a surplus after meeting the needs of healthcare workers, she said any leftover masks would be made available to local businesses and individuals as requested.


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