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4-H project involves sewing face masks

LIVING THE 4-H PLEDGE — Some Jefferson County 4-H members are living out the 4-H pledge to “pledge my hands to larger service” by participating in a countywide community service project to make nonsurgical protective face masks to provide an extra level of protection for EMTs, police officers, medical personnel and anyone else in need. Among them is Mya Keenan, a member of the Wildwood Critters 4-H Club, who delivered some to the Richmond Volunteer Fire and Rescue. -- Contributed

STEUBENVILLE — Some Jefferson County 4-H members are using extra time on their hands being home from school because of the coronavirus to help a greater cause — making nonsurgical protective face masks to help those on the front lines.

That includes 12-year-old Mya Keenan of Bloomingdale, a member of the Wildwood Critters 4-H Club, who has been making nonsurgical masks with material donated by JoAnn Fabrics to provide an extra level of protection for EMTs, police officers, medical personnel and anyone else in need.

“My daughter just started learning to sew a month ago for a 4-H project she’s taking this year,” explained Mya’s mother, Brooke Goddard. “When my sister, Angie Allison, 4-H Extension educator for Jefferson County, heard that JoAnn Fabrics was giving away free fabric to make masks, she contacted me to let me know. We didn’t waste any time and headed to JoAnn’s that day. She also reached out to all 4-H clubs to ask them to participate in making 10 masks each to donate to whomever they chose,” Goddard continued.

“Mya, however, has been taking orders to deliver for free. She has made 12 for the Richmond Fire Department, 40 for the Weirton Police Department, has shipped to the sick/elderly, nursing homes, medical professionals, grocery stores, residents of Ohio, West Virginia and South Carolina — adults and children,” she explained.

“She’s making more than 100, and the requests keep coming in. Anyone can help by sewing masks and reaching out to the people in their community to see who’s in need or if they contact me — Brook Goddard through Facebook or at brleanne@yahoo.com — we will arrange how to get them delivered. Also, shipping us fabric/elastic would help financially,” she added.

The masks are not meant to be 100 percent protection “but people are using them for extra protection, over/under their N95’s, people working in banks/stores, etc., or residents just needing to go out shopping,” she noted.

“We’re thankful for the 4-H in our community that have sparked this passion/life skill in Mya, JoAnn Fabrics for the donations and Knot Sew Ordinary (Tambi Mazur) for giving her sewing lessons,” Mya’s mother continued, expressing appreciation to all those who have lent a hand to date.

“We actually have a lady from Monroe County shipping us 50 just to help. She contacted us via e-mail,” she said in identifying a blessing not expected but appreciated.

“My husband’s been cutting, I pin the pattern, and Mya is the only one who can sew,” she said.

Leslie Aftanas, 4-H/agriculture and natural resource program assistant, explained that Mya is taking her first sewing project as part of Jefferson County’s 4-H program provided through the Ohio State University Extension with her first mask delivery provided to the Richmond Fire Department.

“County 4-H clubs are being encouraged to participate in a countywide community service project making these masks in the spirit of the 4-H pledge, “I pledge my hands to larger service.” Current clubs participating in the program are Wildwood Critters, Cross Creek Tomahawks, Country Rangers and more.

Aftanas said her daughter, Ava Aftanas, and J.P. Wilson also are making masks. “Ava is using her great-grandma’s sewing machine,” she said, noting J.P.’s father is an EMT, and J.P. wanted to help his family.

“Both of these kids are from Cross Creek Tomahawks 4-H Club,” Aftanas said, explaining she originally had been contacted by J.P.’s mother, that her husband’s work was in need of masks. “I called Angie, and she got in touch with JoAnn Fabric, and they are supplying supplies to make these masks. Angie put a message out on Facebook for any kids doing a sewing project or just wanting to do some community hours, since most clubs’ community service is on hold, could make some medical masks. With that, Angie was getting orders from all kinds of people from medical workers, EMTs and fire departments. The orders are getting filled little by little,” Aftanas said.

For information on the program, call the 4-H office at (740) 264-2212.

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