It takes about 20 minutes to sew a face mask, according to Maya Goldman. The 11-year-old Washington resident knows this because she’s been sewing them for health care workers and to combat the shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maya and her mother, Amie Perl, heard about a hospital in Washington State that was asking people to sew masks for their staff.
“I know how to sew and people needed masks, and so I decided to do something I knew how to do,” Maya says.
So they took the idea to Maya’s sewing teacher, Antoinette Lee. They discussed patterns and materials to use. Then, the two invited Maya’s classmates from Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School to an online group sewing session on March 27.
The sewing session, led by Lee, lasted two hours.
Lee, owner of A Special Lee Sewing and Craft Cafe, was initially nervous, having never used Zoom. “It was tricky at first,” she said. “But it was a great time.”
Micaela Fistel, 11, was already interested in sewing because of Maya, and she was excited when her friend invited her to join the project. “I had never made a face mask before,” she says.
The group learned how to make the masks, and eventually became creative with the materials they used. Maya, for instance, added a pipe cleaner to the inside of the mask for a nose bridge.
They’ve made 50 masks so far and now work on their own time. They work with three patterns from Multicare Deaconness Hospital, in Spokane, Wash. Sitting in front of their cameras, Maya holds up a sunshiny yellow mask, while Micaela holds up one with a ladybug pattern.
The group hopes to make 100 masks for health care workers, and then some for the local community. Perl said that those could be used to raise funds for area hospitals. Daniela Cotler, 12, hopes that this project will help the most vulnerable. She says her mother works at a nonprofit, “where a lot of people are poor or live on the street so it’s really hard for them.”
“As Jewish kids, it’s a mitzvah to do this especially because it’s almost Pesach,” Micaela says. “It’s like the plague. But doing this helps us get through it faster than we did in Egypt.”
Says Lee, “We are all ultimately responsible for each other. There are so many people home, not being able to do anything, worrying about those being abused or without food. For children, this is great for them to understand while they’re young to help others.
“You want to come out on the other side of this and see that you did something good to help out.”
Carolyn Conte is a reporter for the Baltimore Jewish Times, an affiliated publication of Washington Jewish Week.