Helping her community with a mask-making campaign

Sophomore Stephanie Chung creates face masks in light of COVID-19

Scissors, thread, stitches, and a camera.  

Simple materials on their own, but with the potential to save lives together. 

Most people have been staying home to help slow the spread of COVID-19. However, sophomore Stephanie Chung has taken it a step further and has created a campaign to make face masks in hopes of protecting the community. 

“When coronavirus started spreading, on my Youtube channel steph04UK I started to cover COVID 19 news and by doing that, I realized how crucial it was to wear masks and to wash hands,” Chung said via text. “Even though it is critical to wear masks to stop the spread of the virus, there weren’t many people realizing this fact, since places like Europe and the US have a different perception towards wearing masks compared to Asia. Here, they have a perception that masks are only for criminals trying to hide their identity or people who are severely sick that they shouldn’t come out of their homes. Therefore there aren’t many manufacturers in the US that fabricate masks.”

Aware of the lack of supplies, Chung began to fabricate her own masks to help others. 

“From then on, I started to research how to make homemade masks with different types of filters you can get in the U.S. that can prevent viruses from entering your respiratory system,” she said via text. “I first made a few for my family members to try out, then started to hand out the masks to the people around me which eventually led me to donate to local hospitals like Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in Dallas.”

This was nothing out of the ordinary for Chung, as she has found crafting to be something that comes naturally to her. 

“I like to make new things, especially when it is tied to my curiosity,” she said via text. “When my curiosity kicks in, I become a thorough researcher. In this case, researching and studying different ways to make masks!”

Once she realized the potential her creations had, Chung utilized her leadership positions from school organizations.

I thought it would be great to get as many people involved in this meaningful activity to help the local community, so I have started a campaign getting people in Liberty High School involved”

— Stephanie Chung

“I thought it would be great to get as many people involved in this meaningful activity to help the local community, so I have started a campaign getting people in Liberty High School involved,” she said via text. “Also since I am the board member of One Thread nonprofit organization I decided to amplify the campaign through One Thread.”

From then, One Thread was able to expand what was previously just an idea. 

“I think the campaign is an amazing idea and it really brought to light how much a community can do even if we aren’t all together,” One Thread Vice President junior Sofia Calderon said via text. “Everyone can do something even in times like this and it was a nice reminder of that. We even got donations from local organizations that gave us fabric and overall, it’s an amazing campaign to be a part of as I see students willing to put in the time to help others unconditionally.”

Some of the volunteers that joined appreciated the easy opportunity to help. 

“Mainly I just wanted to help out in some way but I didn’t know how to make masks at all or where to even donate them,” junior Lexi Hanlon said. “So when I saw the mask making campaign and that it had everything you needed to get started I thought it was a great opportunity.”

The campaign was aimed at reducing the scarcity of masks. 

“I don’t want any tragedies of people not being able to wear masks because they cannot get them,” Chung said via text. “The goal of the campaign is about the wellbeing of our local community and to provide them with masks to fight against the COVID 19 together. I love the fact that students are coming together to help our community in this difficult situation.”

With growing numbers in face masks and volunteers, the project proved to be a success. 

“The exact count is still increasing as people join the campaign everyday and contribute more and more,” Calderon said via text. “As of now, we’ve had about 200 masks made by One Thread volunteers in just two weeks. Makes you think the impact it could have on a larger scale in different parts of the country and even the world.”

As of now, we’ve had about 200 masks made by One Thread volunteers in just two weeks. Makes you think the impact it could have on a larger scale in different parts of the country and even the world.”

— Sophia Calderon

Making masks to help others is just the beginning for Chung, as she has found that she wants to explore a career in medicine. 

“It is always so pleasing to help others and it is always a delight to know I can help others in some ways,” Chung said via text. “I am passionate about helping others and in the future, I want to pursue a career in the medical field, helping people in need.”

Chung also had a YouTube channel prior to the outbreak, and dedicated a new channel to the cause. 

“I made another youtube channel called Steph04USA to upload mask-making manuals so volunteers can easily follow the tutorial to make the masks,” Chung said via text. “I am going to upload another upgraded tutorial video and I am constantly studying ways to make effective masks that anyone can easily make!

Though making face masks may seem like an entertaining way to pass the time during social distancing, Chung encourages participants to think less broadly and more about the individual lives that will be changed. 

“Before you make the masks, think about how happy the people receiving them will be,” she said via text. “Make each individual mask with love and care and since this mask will be in direct contact with people’s face and respiratory tract, hygiene and quality are very important.