Chipman students sewing ‘Masks from the Heart’

Felton’s Brynn String, 12, of Felton, said the idea for Masks from the Heart came to Brynn during the second week school was closed during the outbreak of COVID-19. (Submitted photos)

FELTON — Brynn String and Mylee Wilkie wanted to use their sewing skills to help their community.

What followed was bigger than anything the two W.T. Chipman Middle School students could have imagined.

The seventh-graders started the Facebook page “Masks from the Heart” in order to distribute masks to first responders and medical professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. In two weeks, they have made more than 500 masks and connected with more than 17,000 people via Facebook.

“I never thought it would be this big,” Brynn said. “I just want to inspire people to do good. Everyone is trying their best to help people during this time.”

The girls aren’t limited to Delaware either. They have been making masks for people in New York and even as far away as Alaska.

“It’s been crazy,” Mylee said. “We started just in our community. Then we went into the state and now it’s going throughout the whole country.”

“I thought we would be helping people in Delaware,” Brynn said. “Now we’re all around the country.”

The idea came to Brynn during the second week school was closed during the outbreak of COVID-19.

Brynn String, left, and Mylee Wilkie wanted to use their sewing skills to help their community.

The Felton resident had learned to sew from her grandmother and decided to start making masks for her local first responders. She contacted Mylee of Greenwood, the two have been friends since playing on the same soccer team in the Harrington Parks & Recreation league, and asked if she would help.

Mylee, however, did not know how to sew. So she taught herself in a few days.

Pretty soon Brynn’s grandmother posted a video of Brynn sewing masks on Facebook and based on the feedback, the two girls thought they should create their own page.

The girls’ mothers, Aimee String and Lisa Wilkie, made a spreadsheet to manage all the requests and donations, which were coming in via Facebook. They also set up a GoFundMe page (https://www.gofundme.com/f/masks-from-the-heart) which, as of Wednesday afternoon, raised $725 to cover supplies and shipping costs — already more than the $500 fundraising goal.

“These girls are truly being a church with no walls,” Mrs. Wilkie said. “They are reaching and touching lives beyond just a building or even their own community. God has shown his presence throughout all of this and we are absolutely blown away by the abundance of people that are helping. It really is a joy to be able to witness it all unfold.”

The Masks from the Heart team has grown to 13 members who are making masks. One of those is Mrs. String, who learned to sew two weeks ago after lessons from her daughter.

“It’s not just us at all,” Brynn said. “And we can always use more volunteers and donations.”

Mylee Wilkie did not know how to sew. So she taught herself in a few days.

Masks from the Heart has donated masks to individual providers, labs and more than 20 medical facilities.

Beebe Hospital, Nanticoke Hospital, Dover Air Force Base, Delaware Department of Transportation, Delaware Veterans Home, Carlisle Fire Company, Delaware Hospice, Cancer Care Center, Mid-Atlantic Family Practice and SUN Behavioral Hospital are just some of the many medical facilities who have received masks.

“They’re all very thankful,” Mylee said. “They say that we’ve been amazing.”

The two girls, both 12 years old, estimate it takes about 30 minutes to sew one mask. The goal is for each of them to do four a day.

They say they couldn’t have done it without the donations of fabric and elastic from the community. Rolls of fabric have been showing up at their homes nearly every day.

“Some people have really gone above and beyond,” Brynn said. “It’s been amazing to see.”


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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