Volunteers sew nearly 5,000 face masks for local K-12 students

Author: Erin Blasko

Face masks for local students

The Ladies of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College (LNDSMC), in partnership with Busy Hands of Michiana, Sew Loved Inc. and the Cathedral of St. James, made nearly 5,000 face masks for local students amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Founded in 1934, LNDSMC is a social organization for woman affiliated with the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College that promotes friendship, self-improvement, community involvement and social justice.

Along with Busy Hands and Sew Loved — local service organizations structured around sewing, knitting and other craft work — and the Cathedral of St. James, an Episcopal congregation in South Bend, the group sewed 4,675 face masks for K-12 students at 10 South Bend Community School Corp. (SBCSC) schools.

They also donated 800 lanyards to the schools for younger students, so the students don’t lose their masks.

The project involved 1,496 hours of volunteer work valued at more than $23,000, plus fabric, thread and other donated materials from LNDSMC, Busy Hands, Sew Loved and St. James, as well as from Notre Dame Athletics, which donated unused T-shirts from canceled spring athletic events, and Notre Dame faculty and staff and their families.

Faculty and staff and their families also helped cut and bundle materials for the sewing kits and pick up and deliver the kits and finished masks.

Liz Burman led the effort, called Face Masks for South Bend Students, on behalf of LNDSMC. Burman is the wife of Thomas Burman, the Robert M. Conway Director of the Medieval Institute and professor of history at Notre Dame.

“We at LNDSMC are so proud of the work Liz has done for the South Bend community in getting masks made for students who need them. It’s a daunting endeavor, but without a doubt, she’s going to accomplish her goal with the help of LNDSMC members, as well as the many volunteers from the community at large,” said Susie Farrington, immediate past president of LNDSMC.

“Fulfilling this need during this time of crisis shows what the Notre Dame-Saint Mary’s community can accomplish with our connections to spread care and compassion within our local community,” Farrington said.

Face masks have been shown to slow or prevent the spread of the coronavirus in a variety of settings, but especially in enclosed spaces, such as classrooms and hallways, where physical distancing is not possible.

Like many schools in the area, SBCSC schools are preparing to reopen for in-person instruction after several weeks of virtual learning to begin the fall semester, at which point students will be required to wear masks at all times.

George Jones is associate director of communications for SBCSC.

“The South Bend Community School Corporation is so grateful for the generosity, compassion and skill that local mask-makers have shared with our school community,” Jones said. “These masks will help keep our students, staff and families healthy while we work to make a slow and healthy return to in-person instruction. Seeing the goodness of our communities at a very challenging time for us all is uplifting.”

LNDSMC is exploring opportunities to provide face masks to other community partners, including other school systems. It recently partnered with the Christ Child Society to distribute masks to students of highest need in the South Bend community.

For more information or to assist with future mask making, visit lndsmc.org or https://www.facebook.com/groups/SouthBendFaceMasks, or contact Elizabeth Burman at eburman.mail@gmail.com.

Contact: Erin Blasko, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4127, eblasko@nd.edu