For Director of Extended Learning and Priory faculty, Alethia Donathan, the magnitude of the COVID-19 crisis began to hit her when she decided to cancel Spring Adventure Camp, which was scheduled for March 16 to 27. Concerned for school families – especially the parents who are healthcare workers – she wondered if there was anything she could do to help. With a shortage of face masks being a widespread problem, Donathan saw this as an opportunity to pitch in. Sewing is a skill that Donathan first learned in middle school when her mother enrolled her in a summer sewing class. She has been sewing ever since – costumes, outfits for her daughter, and the occasional quilt. “Lately due to work and life, I haven't had the time to sew, so it has been a blessing to have the opportunity to get back to the sewing machine,” said Donathan.
After Spring Adventure Camp was canceled, Donathan reached out to a Lower School parent who works at the Queen’s Hospital and asked if they needed any homemade masks. “She had said that the ICU would love to have some as they were reusing their masks. I searched for some ideas and decided to sew a mask that has a pocket for them to insert a filter,” she said.
Using material she already had on hand, the first batch of 40 masks were delivered to the ICU at Queen’s Hospital in mid-March. In addition to teaching online classes all day, and her role as Director of Extended Learning, Donathan found time at night and on the weekend to continue to sew. “I sometimes enlist my husband, Chuck, to help me cut the stainless-steel wire,” she said. To date, she’s made over 300 masks for various hospitals, nursing homes, families, friends, and the Lower and Upper School faculty.
The St. Andrew's Schools community has shared that they are proud of Donathan's contributions and mask recipients have expressed their appreciation as it has afforded those without a mask to leave the house and still feel safe. Priory faculty, Marcie Herring commented, “Here’s to fresh air, sunshine, and family walks! We truly appreciate your generosity and thoughtfulness.”