Press Release
Posted April 22, 2020

Stitch by stitch and seam by seam, the Lorain County Community College family is uniting to collectively sew hundreds of face masks to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

With-in person theatre shows canceled, LCCC director of theatre Jeremy Benjamin and costume shop supervisor April Rock, found themselves with a lot of material for costumes and no characters to dress. It didn’t take long for the decision to be made to turn the yards of fabric into face masks for the community.

“Every piece of fabric we have that’s appropriate for masks is being used,” Rock said. “These masks will help community members so they can go out grocery shopping and do essential things they need to do, while protecting others.”

To increase the impact as much as possible, Rock put together mask making kits and a call went out to LCCC employees to volunteer to sew the masks. As Benjamin expected, the response was overwhelming.

“I’ve worked at LCCC for 30 years, so I know the kind of employees we have. LCCC employees always step up when needed,” he said.

Each kit contains material to make 5-10 masks of various sizes, with the capacity for all the kits to make more than 300 masks. The cast of mask-makers includes more than 30 local residents. Most are LCCC employees and a few are current students who heard about the effort and wanted to get involved, Benjamin said. Volunteers picked up the kits during a drive-through or walk-up distribution at Stocker Arts Center.

For many volunteers, sewing masks gives them the opportunity to play a role in the fight against the virus. Debbie Turner works in LCCC’s human resources office and is making masks in her North Ridgeville home. Utilizing her own materials, as well as the kit, she plans to make about 80 masks to donate to the cause. Working on this collective project helps her feel connected to the community.

Debbie Turner smiles while holding several fabric face masks.
Debbie Turner with some of the face masks she’s made.

“The pandemic and ultimately the quarantine has left me feeling alone and helpless. When the call came to help make masks, I jumped at it,” Turner said. “Not only does this give me a sense of purpose and the chance to help others, it also alleviates some of the loneliness and isolation. We’re each alone, but we’re all working ‘together’ on this project.”

Rock and Benjamin are also in the sewing circle. Rock has been making masks for a few weeks, and while Benjamin is not directly making the masks, he’s enlisted someone close to him to help with the project. His daughter, Kathryn, is assembling masks in her downtime between her online classes for North Olmsted High School. She plans to enroll next year in LCCC’s College Credit Plus program.

Benjamin said it’s noteworthy that the theatre department is able to impact the community, even when the stage lights are off.

“Theatre reacts to world events and tells that history, good or bad,” Benjamin said. “Through this, theatre brings people together, especially in times of need. We are just doing our small part to help out in this crisis.”

And with more than 30 people each doing their part to help, that impact adds up, Turner said.

“Maybe what each of us is doing is a small thing, but, hopefully, as a collective we can help make a bigger difference,” she said.