MBE student sews masks for healthcare workers

    Mountain Brook Elementary School fifth-grader Claire Leonard has made the most of her time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    In addition to learning online, she has sewn more than 50 protective masks for healthcare workers across the Birmingham metro area. 

    “It makes me feel good because I’m doing my part and what we need to do in this crazy time,” she said. 

    Claire grew up sewing by hand with her grandparents and learned how to use a sewing machine about a year ago. When her mother, Elena, a part-time physical therapist at a skilled nursing facility, found out that some of her coworkers needed masks, she knew where to turn. 

    “Some of the nurses there asked us for some, and then some of the therapists,” Elena said. “And then some of their friends who were nurses at other hospitals started asking.” 

    Claire rose to the challenge. 

    She started sewing cotton masks at her home about two weeks ago with the help of her mother and sister, Ann Elise, a seventh-grader at Mountain Brook Junior High. The two of them cut the fabric and then handed it off to Claire. 

    She said it takes about 15 minutes to sew each mask. 

    “I just think it’s fun,” she said. 

    The masks feature different patterns on the exterior and a pocket in the middle for filters. Claire has gone with her mother to deliver the masks to their recipients at Elena’s workplace and hospitals such as UAB and St. Vincent’s.

    “I’m just so proud that she’s taken the initiative to do something like that in this time of need,” Elena said. “We’ve gotten text messages from several of the nurses with pictures of themselves in the masks and telling us how grateful they are and how they wouldn’t have a mask if she had not made these available to them.”

    Claire said she plans to keep sewing masks until they are no longer needed. She delivered her most recent batch this past weekend. 

    MBE Principal Ashley McCombs said that Claire exemplifies the school’s motto, which is to lead from the heart. 

    “When we see students take an initiative to do that and have servant leadership, it is a proud moment,” McCombs said, “because that’s our ultimate goal, is for them to do that independently.”

    This story is an installment in the Mountain Brook Schools "Good News" series. If you know about good news from the school or Mountain Brook community, please consider emailing your story idea to mbgoodnews@mtnbrook.k12.al.us.