Clothing Construction and Textile students at San Diego Continuing Education (SDCE), California's largest noncredit institution, are volunteering with Project Mask to help combat critical protective gear shortages due to COVID-19. Students are utilizing the skills they have learned in the classroom to sew homemade mask donations for their neighbors.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines Friday recommending San Diegans wear a non-medical basic cloth or fabric mask to cover their face in public.
"SDCE students are expressing a deep desire to help, while the institution is not officially coordinating a mask donation, we are directing them to Project Mask,” said Shirley Pierson, SDCE Faculty.
Project Mask was started by Emily Pritts Tournet, owner of Boho Fabrics in San Diego. Eva Tseng, SDCE Clothing and Textiles student, led her peers to the community initiative. She utilized her company, Extraordinary Kits, a craft therapy business as a platform to join Project Mask’s Leadership Team. “When I learned about the cause I was so excited to join their effort to help get personal protective equipment to our healthcare workers and nursing homes,” she said.
Inside SDCE’s free Clothing and Textile Arts courses students learn basic to advanced apparel construction skills and the ins and outs of developing a sewn product from concept to consumer.
Tseng released a DIY instruction video on her website, “Make a Basic Surgical Face Mask with Elastic” for her classmates and other Project Mask volunteers. “We have been busy working creating mask kits, collaborating and formalizing patterns, and doing deliveries of finished face masks within San Diego county.” Tseng started Extraordinary Kits in 2019 after completing SDCE’s free Sewn Products Business program.
According to the Project Mask Facebook Page, since its launch in mid-March, the group has seen an overwhelming response from the county of San Diego as the state reaches the crisis stage and are requesting more administrative volunteers to aid with drop-off coordination.
Due to the urgency to protect public health in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic the San Diego Community College District including SDCE has transitioned to alternative/remote modes of instruction through the spring semester.
“With moving everything online, I have been super busy turning my design studio into a production studio,” said Tammie Pontsler, SDCE Faculty. “72 of my students attended my first Zoom meeting. We are all trying to quickly learn all of the platforms, but they seem to be excited and up for the challenge.”
In addition to Project Mask, San Diego Continuing Education’s Clothing Construction and Textiles department has partnered with local charities for more than 5 years including, Rady Children’s Hospital, Ryan’s Case for Smiles and with the city’s foster care organizations and since then has donated nearly 3,000 personalized pillowcases to benefit children at risk.
SDCE serves large populations of disadvantaged students and are able to continue supporting students learning remotely through providing Wi-Fi access and sewing machine donations made possible by the San Diego County Stitchers’ Keep Sewing Alive Campaign.