#MyMaskMyStory: “I realized I found genuine enjoyment through crafting”

Greater Washington D.C.  |  July 22, 2020

Part of our Together While Apart campaign, #MyMaskMyStory is a collection of personal accounts from individuals with deep ties to the COVID-19 pandemic. These include those who have volunteered, those who have donated, and those who have received.

Edited by Dilber Shatursun

“In mid-March, Tzu Chi Academy classes transitioned online because of the coronavirus pandemic. As a teacher and school administrator, I had to quickly learn how to conduct online instruction, and revise lesson plans and testing procedures.”

“At the same time, I also started learning how to sew facemasks with whatever materials I had at home by watching videos online. After making a few different versions for myself, I realized I found genuine enjoyment through crafting. Aside from work and class prep, I was making cloth masks for myself, my family, and my friends who needed them.”

“Then, in mid April, the Tzu Chi Washington DC mask making team had already sewn and donated nearly 300 cloth masks. Eric Tong, the communication lead, invited me to pitch in, too. Also, my former co-worker, Stacey told me about a church that was holding food distributions every Thursday. I told Eric and he got in touch with the church. In less than 2 weeks, our small but mighty team made enough cloth masks for the next donation. Everyone helped to double check the masks, iron them, and pack them up with a greeting card.”

“On June 18, I took my two children, Stephanie and Stephen Ho, to the church to distribute the cloth masks. When they arrived at 3:30, the church parking lot already had 50-60 cars waiting in line for the 4 PM food distribution. The church staff immediately welcomed the other volunteers and I, and then suggested we visit each waiting car to chat and talk about the handmade, reusable cloth masks.”

“My teammates had separated the masks into different sizes, colors, and patterns, as some might be more suitable for children, women, or men. Every driver and passenger expressed their gratitude. When they saw the different color choices, they all had bright smiles on their faces. They discussed what each of them might like or whether grandma at home might like a certain color. Those with children told us their children would be so happy seeing these cute masks. Within an hour, we had given away almost 200 cloth masks.”

“I was very grateful that my children and I had this opportunity to give back to the community. Since March, they’d hear the sound of the sewing machine every night after dinner. At first, my kids didn’t understand why I needed to sew so many masks with just the 4 of them in the family. Now that they have participated in the distribution, talked to people about these cloth masks, and seen everyone’s gratitude firsthand, they finally understand how such a small gesture and effort can bring such great joy to people in need.”

Jean Ho is an educator and administrator of Tzu Chi Academy, Washington DC. Learn about her mask-making efforts here, and discover more from the #MyMaskMyStory collection here and empower our efforts to provide PPE to as many people as we can through our Together While Apart campaign in the button below. 

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