Dozens of Chanute residents have visited Abi Morris’ front porch, put their money in a bag taped to the door, and picked up their bags with masks to protect them from the coronavirus and COVID-19.
Morris, a senior at Chanute High School who plans to attend the University of Kansas to ultimately become a doctor, has been crafting masks since coronavirus cases began to emerge. The end result is a door system that allows community members to get their masks while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Not only have people picked up masks at her residence, but Morris has also delivered masks to various Chanute homes, businesses, and the USD 413 School District board office, and has taken some to people directly. Basic masks are $10, while those decked out in designs or colors are $12.
Morris, with the help of her mother, Alison, have developed basic masks that have elastic straps, can be tied around the back of the head, or even over-the-ear versions.
From a very early age, Morris, 17, has wanted to help people – the senior currently shadows Dr. David Guernsey every Thursday at Ashley Clinic – and that sense of giving didn’t waiver during the current unprecedented situation.
“There aren’t many options for me personally to help during this pandemic,” she said. “However, I can make masks and that helps people.”
The process starts in a second living room turned into a sewing center, where Morris cuts fabric for the inside and outside layers of the masks. A filter goes in between. Mom Alison also helps with cutting out fabric. Then, Morris sews the masks and the flaps for the elastic, putting them together. She also sews in wire nose pieces so that the masks can better fit to faces, before stitching together elastic to make the masks even more movable.
If people want their masks to stand out, Morris will use heat transfer vinyl and heat press the design on them. A basic mask takes Morris around 15 minutes to make, while those with designs take a little longer. These masks are then bagged and labeled to be placed on Morris’ front door.
“We have a metal picnic bench, and so I pulled it up to the couch so that I have all my materials on one side, and the sewing machine closest to me so that I can sit on the couch and reach all my supplies from arm’s length away,” she said. “It actually works really well that I don’t have a big mess on the kitchen counter, or a big mess anywhere in the house. It actually works out really well.”
While the entire process has turned out well and there have been more than 250 masks sold to the community, Morris doesn’t shortchange the people who have helped her through the process.
Morris said her father Brian was the inspiration behind her putting together the masks. Brian is a travel consultant and is adamant about getting ahead of the process, Morris said. Right before CHS’ spring break in March and before businesses and schools closed because of the pandemic, he brought about 100 filters back home, leaving them in the hands of Morris.
It was on Morris to collect fabric, thread, needles and elastic to begin making the masks. The first 15 went to Brian’s work colleagues and to Morris’ own family. Since then, she has collected better-quality materials, resulting in superior masks.
Alison, a fifth-year USD 413 teacher, helps spread the word on Facebook and said the community absolutely loves Morris’ masks.
“People have really liked them because they’re really comfortable; the mask itself is really soft,” Alison said. “And the elastic going around the head is way more comfortable around the ears, so we’ve gotten a lot of really great feedback that way. And a lot of what I’m hearing is people liking the custom masks, the camouflage or the Comets. She’s made some for me that have CES (Chanute Elementary School) stars and (teacher) apples and there have been a lot of people that have personalized masks.”