While this year’s PUNCH student-designed and -produced fashion show unfortunately couldn’t take place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Holton sewers quickly found another outlet for their skills: sewing reusable fabric masks for area healthcare workers.
The idea came to PUNCH community service liaison Josephine Stark ’21 over Spring Break as she began to hear about the growing need for masks.
“When I found out that hospitals were accepting sewn cloth mask donations, I was eager to jump in and help,” she says. “I know how to sew, so this felt like something concrete that I could do to support my community. Furthermore, I knew that all my peers would want to help, too, and I felt that we could have maximum impact by working together, apart.”
After some early experimentation to identify the best process, fabrics, and so on, Stark offered to organize a PUNCH mask-making initiative when classes resumed.
Around the same time, PUNCH alumna and Baltimore-based OB/GYN resident Dr. Ashley Wade-Vuturo ’09 approached the School about mask shortages in her hospitals. Wade-Vuturo recalled the many talented sewers in Holton’s community and asked whether they might be interested in supporting her institutions.
For Stark and fellow club members, the answer was a resounding yes. They leapt into action after Spring Break, hosting a mask-making tutorial open to all Holton students and even conscripting several PUNCH alumnae for the effort.
The group’s goal was to make 119 masks in honor of Holton’s 119 years. Together with the alum seamstresses, they ended up producing nearly 200 masks—and counting. Through a Baltimore-based sewing studio called Domesticity Studio, Holton’s masks are being donated to the hospitals where Wade-Vuturo works.
Stark says that while she and fellow PUNCH members were disappointed not to have a live show this year, “I think we were all more focused on what we could do. It was really fun to come together as a PUNCH team and channel our energy into mask-making. We saw an opportunity to help, and we seized it. It felt so special to have a broad cross-section of the Holton community, from fifth graders to alumnae and even faculty and staff, working together toward a common goal. When I realized we surpassed our goal, I was ecstatic.”
For Stark, connecting with a Holton alum on the front lines of the COVID-19 fight “made this initiative all the more meaningful. Dr. Wade-Vuturo and her colleagues are truly finding a way or making one, and we were inspired to find a way or make one, too.”
WANT TO HELP?
It's not too late to lend a hand! If you know your way around a sewing machine or are just crafty, here is a PDF of Stark's tutorial for fellow students, which includes instructions for both sewn and no-sew masks.
She also shared her favorite YouTube tutorial, which helped her learn.
The School partnered with Domesticity Studio, which helps mask-makers ensure their products are the preferred pattern and quality for Baltimore-area hospitals, then delivers the finished products. They also have patterns, tutorials, and more on their site.
HAVE YOUR OWN #FINDAWAYORMAKEONE STORY?
How are you supporting those on the front lines of the COVID-19 fight or other essential workers? What creative ways have you found to support your community during the pandemic? Email your name, affiliation (alumna, student, faculty/staff), and a few details to firstname.lastname@example.org!