Cori and Holly Carraway have been working hard to create Personal Protective Equipment medical masks in light of a shortage as the COVID-19 pandemic grips the nation.

Cori Carraway wanted to do something to tick away the doldrums of being stuck at home without school or track and field, so she wanted to stay busy.

Oh, and while doing that, become a hero as well.

Combined with the help of her mother Holly, the Carraways of Mont Belvieu – by way of some help from others – decided it was the right time to help make protective medical masks as the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic that has relegated to their homes for the majority of their time.

“My daughter, who is an amateur seamstress, has been sewing with her grandmother and myself,” Holly said. “She came to me after she saw a video of someone in a homemade mask. She said, ‘let’s do this’ and make some masks. So, I called a friend to see if she had any material.”

What has turned into 1,000 yards of thread and 70 completed mask enterprise started after family friend, Tanya Sled, got the Carraways their first 10 yards to start.

“She had a bunch of fabrics for me and dropped it on our porch,” Holly said. “My daughter and I started cutting up patterns. We found a lot of patterns online and found some that were easy for her. The intention was to just keep her busy with something to do.

“She’s involved in track and tennis, so this has really impacted her,” Holly said. 

The idea was posted on Holly’s social media accounts and others started to get on board and tagging nursing friends who have since reached out to the Carraways since this began last week.

“I’ve been connecting with all sorts of people,” Holly said. “The current supply of masks is so low, we’ve had a huge outreach from local medical professionals: respiratory therapists, nurses in assisted living facilities, and even a nurse working seven 12-hour shifts at a prison right now. 

“So, we are just going to keep making masks as long as there is a need. For a lot of people, the masks that they’re issued may have to last them all shift. So, they’re going to wear our masks over the issued ones as an added layer of protection.”

The masks are made with a combination of cotton and elastic head bands to make them work. They also include coffee filters – supported by the Center for Disease Control so they can change out the filters if they can’t change out their masks.  Spencer Carraway, the family patriarch suggested the use of plastic headbands to keep hair out of one’s face and picked up a bundle at the dollar store.

“We are doing this for free,” Holly said. “We average about 10 a day. We don’t send a goal, but we try to make at least six a day.”

On Tuesday, Houston Methodist contacted the family telling them they can now accept homemade masks and Holly was to deliver three of them soon as possible.

Cori, a seventh grader at Barbers Hill Middle School South student, took the reins of the project.

“Cori has kind of taken the reins for the project,” Holly said. “She’s really involved in service. She loves to volunteer her time when she can. She isn’t one who wants to sit idly and do nothing. 

“So, during this time when we’re having to stay home because of the coronavirus, it’s kept her pretty busy. I’m really proud of her. Plus, it’s been fun for me to work with her on it.”

The younger Carraway emphasized her family’s continued work in helping people and this crisis was a no-brainer in terms of keeping that going.

“Our family has all been involved with service,” Cori said. “I thought it would be cool to do and make masks for people. I had heard my mom talking to her friends about mask shortages so … we have nothing else to do so this is something we can do.”

The family was put in touch by a family has to travel to New York for chemotherapy for a toddler an have no choice, according to Carraway, who said she will provide masks for the whole group.

“Social media has been a huge contributing factor in getting the masks we’re making to people,” Holly said.

What the Carraways have done has resonated locally.

“I am a local Home Health Nurse and with it being so difficult to obtain proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) the homemade masks at least give us a level protecting our patients and ourselves from what we may bring into the home,” Kelly Leger said. “It is an amazing thing they are doing and nurses all over the country are extremely grateful.”

Despite the Carraways’ best efforts, there may still be a bit of a lag in terms of all emergency providers being all in using the masks.

“My hospital is still not leting us use them,” respiratory specialist Julie Hearn said. “My daughter and I have not gone anywhere to wear them around other people yet, but just knowing we have them is comforting. And, my mother feels so much better now that she no longer feels the need to put a handkerchief over her face. We were feeling very isolated and the fact that Holly and her daughter handmade these masks just for us and delivered them to our porch without any contact meant the world to us. That selfless act of kindness gave us  such a pick me up in the midst of all of this anxiety and worry.”

 For more information on getting involved in mask production, mask requests or any other questions email hcarraway88@gmail.com





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