United Way, WellSpan lead initiative to prepare county school districts for mask shortage

2 min read184 views and 97 shares Posted August 12, 2020

As Lebanon County children get ready to start the school year, local health and community organizations are working together to make sure they have a steady supply of cloth masks.

WellSpan Health, Community Health Council of Lebanon County, and United Way of Lebanon County are partnering on the initiative, which seeks to get churches and other groups involved by making youth masks from a single pattern. The masks, for elementary kids, will then be distributed to school districts as needed, as children wear them out, rip them, lose them, etc.

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“Schools are trying to make all these tough decisions” because of COVID-19, and this is a way to help, Brooke Smith, CEO of the United Way of Lebanon County, told LebTown.

It came up in a couple of conversations that there are efforts to get masks to adults who require them, but children do as well, she said.

The goal is to create cloth masks that can be washed and reused, Smith said. “We want all the children to have several cloth masks through the year. It will take some time.”

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County emergency services director Bob Dowd told LebTown that school districts can request children’s-sized disposable surgical masks from a county portal that supplies frontline workers with PPE to cover immediate shortfalls in the interim.

Melanie Wells, community wellness coordinator at WellSpan Good Samaritan, said the pattern for the youth cloth mask was created by a friend of hers.

Wells is reaching out to Lebanon County churches and asking them to put a notice in their bulletins, along with the pattern. If a church wants to participate and hasn’t been contacted, she asks that you call her at 717-450-2456.

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Community groups are welcome to pitch in, too. “Whoever wants to help,” Wells told LebTown.

In addition to sewing masks, people also can support the initiative by purchasing them online here. At checkout, enter the code LEBYOUTH to ensure the masks are received by Wells. Bianca Zidik is a Cleona-based seamstress supporting the youth mask campaign. Her three-pleat 100% cotton masks, for children 10 and under, are made with fabric from small local quilt shops, according to her website.

Churches and groups that sew masks are asked to collect them so Wells can pick them up the week of Sept. 14 and disburse them as needed.

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Wells said campaign organizers will be working directly with school districts, and they’ve already received confirmation that Palmyra and Northern Lebanon will both need PPE support.


Read all of LebTown’s COVID-19 coverage here.

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Full Disclosure: WellSpan Health is an advertiser on LebTown. LebTown does not make editorial decisions based on advertising relationships and advertisers do not receive special editorial treatment. Learn more about advertising with LebTown here.

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