Volunteer Delaware Face Mask Project masks

Volunteers with the Volunteer Delaware Face Mask Project crafted masks for healthcare workers and other essential workers earlier this year, and they turned their attention to students recently, delivering masks for Cape Henlopen School District and Seaford Montessori School students on Sept. 9.

The Volunteer Delaware Face Mask Project volunteers were set to deliver their first batch of hand-sewn face masks to the Cape Henlopen School District and Seaford Montessori School on Wednesday, Sept. 9. The project started in March 2020, when there was a shortage of face masks for healthcare workers. Jan Semmel, who got the idea after seeing a story on television about a similar group in Georgia, suggested the Volunteer Delaware 50+ Lower Delaware Duffel Bag project tap its volunteers to sew the face masks in Sussex County.

The project’s 92 volunteers made more than 7,000 masks for healthcare workers at Beebe and Nanticoke hospitals, Sussex County EMS, group and nursing homes, and for other essential workers. After that need was met, the group took the summer off, but they are now back sewing face masks for school children.

For the Cape Henlopen School District, the masks are sewn in several sizes to fit students from pre-K through high school. The project sought fabric suitable for the different age groups, resulting in face masks that are appealing to children and thus more likely to be worn consistently. The district will distribute the masks where they are needed.

Cape Henlopen Assistant Superintendent Jenny Nauman said, “We are so grateful for our talented and generous community! These masks will be helpful as back-ups in our schools and are very much appreciated.”

The Sussex Montessori School will open this fall for students in grades kindergarten through third. The school opted for uniform masks for all students and staff, and provided the materials to make them.

Both projects are sponsored by the Sussex County’s Volunteer Delaware 50+ Advisory Council Inc., a 501(c) organization, and donations from individuals support the project.

Pat Senkowski, chair of the council, said, “The council is pleased to be a part of such worthwhile projects and admires the volunteers who have made them so successful.”

Ann Gorrin, Volunteer Delaware 50+ program manager for Sussex County, said, “Sussex County is a vibrant area, with so many individuals sharing their time and talents for others. It’s wonderful to see another community need met by these volunteers.”

Anyone interested in participating in future Volunteer Delaware Face Mask or Duffel Bag projects should contact Bobbi Jo Tice at (302) 515-3024.