XENIA — The coronavirus hasn’t stopped fourth graders in the Xenia schools gifted program from performing their spring service work.
In fact, the pandemic led the group better known as XTAR to its current project.
At the request of contacts in the medical field, families and staff members in the program with the skills to sew have been making the CDC-designed cloth masks that are worn over traditional personal protection equipment to protect and extend the wear of those masks.
“April is usually the time when we do a lot of service (work) in the community with our fourth graders,” said Donna Shaw, XTAR coordinator.
A trip to a nursing home was cancelled due to COVID-19. So the group needed an alternative.
“In keeping with the spirit of service learning and trying to give back to the community … I had a couple of parents who are in the health care profession really say at some point in time there’s going to be a shortage. From a national standpoint, people all over the country are making masks,” she said.
It took a while to get folks on board with making them, Shaw said. But now volunteers are pumping out masks at a frenetic pace.
“I became a teacher because I enjoy helping others,” said Xenia Preschool teacher Jenny Benton. “When I heard about the need for masks to be made, I saw this as an opportunity to help others and give back. I also am able to show my own children how important it is to help during this difficult time.”
More than 100 masks have been made so for and requests for more are approaching 4o, according to Shaw. Anyone able can make masks and donate them for use.
“The response has been pretty overwhelming,” Shaw said. “We’ve got families involved. We’ve got other staff members from Xenia Community Schools involved. We’re willing to bring anybody on board who is willing to contribute.”
According to information from the school, masks should be completed according to the design shared on the volunteer page linked from the Xenia Gifted Services Facebook page. Once complete, masks should be packed in Ziploc bags and left in a drop-box during a scheduled time at the Preschool, where the XTAR program is based. The next scheduled drop-off is today, April 1, with additional dates to be scheduled if there are more masks made that need to be delivered.
So far, masks have gone to Miami Valley Hospital, Atrium Medical Center, local nursing homes, and Dayton Children’s Hospital.
“We’re willing to give them to anyone in need,” Shaw said.
As part of the project, students are also including cards for health workers and first responders as a way to thank them for their service.
“Showing our appreciation for everything that they’re doing,” Shaw said.
For those interested who cannot access Facebook, email Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or search for the project at signupgenius.com.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.