Local 4-H member creates 1,000 masks during COVID-19 pandemic
July 12, 2020
During summer months the children of Alva usually play outside with friends, running around town to find something interesting to do. However, with the current threat of COVID-19 those summer adventures look a little different this year. When the pandemic hit in early March, face coverings and masks became a scarce commodity. Medical facilities all over the state put out a call for homemade masks, and Woods County 4-H answered that call enthusiastically!
Falynn Thomas, a 9-year-old Alva 4-H member, has created and donated over 1,000 masks, an incredible feat for anyone to accomplish, much less for someone her age. Thomas' masks have been donated locally to Beadles Nursing Home, Share Convalescent Home and Share Medical Center, Alva Public Schools, as well as to Northwest Technology Center, where her mom, Tara Thomas works.
Thomas's efforts have reached further than Alva. Her masks were also donated to the Fairview Fellowship Home, Integris Bass Baptist Health Center and St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Enid, Stillwater Medical Center and the Baylor Scott & White Medical Center. Police units, fire departments, citizens, friends and family have also benefited from the masks.
Thomas started sewing masks on March 18 with help from friends from the Alva 4-H Club, where she is a first-year member, and members from the Waynoka 4-H Club. Thomas even provided sewing assistance and instruction via FaceTime and Zoom for those who needed it. She taught her mom to sew also, so she could assist in the mask-making production. Thomas persisted in her mask-making endeavor and finished the 1,000th mask, a lofty goal she had set for herself, on May 23.
"I love to sew, and I enjoy helping my community," said Thomas. In fact, her favorite masks to make were Disney-themed ones for her grandparents. Since completing the 1,000th mask, Thomas has decided to take a break to focus on her three new show lambs that she is breaking to lead and prepare for the Tulsa junior livestock show and lamb lead contest. She is still making masks by individual requests but is taking a much-needed break for now. Thomas would like to thank and recognize three special friends who worked closely with her on her service project; Harper Bays, Jansen Shirley, and Jarin Shirley, all from the Alva 4-H Club. She taught Bays to sew masks, and the Shirley sisters helped by making head bands for medical personnel to make wearing masks more comfortable.
To date, Thomas and other Woods County 4-H members have made over 1,500 homemade face masks. At a time when masks were most needed, these 4-H members utilized their time at home sewing, sometimes late into the night, to help not only their community, but the entire state of Oklahoma. Their generosity and selflessness are stellar examples of the principles of 4-H, as taught through the 4-H pledge; "I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world."
For more information about the Woods County 4-H program, you may visit our website at extension.okstate.edu/county/woods or call 580-327-2786.