Siblings Madeline and Olivia Chronister are artists. When they aren’t swamped with work from Magnificat High School, they’re busy writing short stories, drawing and painting. Their favorite hobby, though, is cosplay, which is emulating popular television characters through homemade costumes and props.
When Cuyahoga County started being deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the sisters decided to use their love of designing and creating masks for cosplay and turn it into making masks for safety service and health workers.
“This project is important because personal protection equipment is so limited right now,” said Madeline, 18. “No one should have to go to work, and not feel safe.”
The initiative is part of Madeline’s “Senior Genesis Project,” a community service project each student has to complete before graduation. She got the idea to make masks after seeing an article asking residents who know how to sew to make masks for hospital workers.
Creating these masks replaced her original project, painting a mural of the entry of the school’s Academic Success Center. Both Madeline and Olivia fall on the autism spectrum and wanted to give back to the center.
“The Academic Success Center is primarily used for people with learning disabilities,” said Olivia, 17. “It’s a place that both my sister and I have utilized.”
With the help of their mother, Jennifer, the two began designing a new mask based on the surgical masks that health care workers were using. They went through 24 versions of their mask until landing on their final pattern, which features double nylon straps, a pocket for the metal clip that locks the mask on one’s face and a middle pocket to incorporate a simple form of filtration if needed, Jennifer said.
They have made about three dozen masks and plan to make 184 more. Overall, the project has cost the Chronisters around $600 for the materials. They’ve also put together a website, maketodonate.com, so that others can help.
There were more than 5,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio as of Friday. Cuyahoga County has almost 1,000 confirmed cases. This has caused a strain on medical supplies, so local hospitals have asked for help from those able to sew.
Under normal circumstances, fabric masks are not recommended for clinical use. However, the crisis and the strain it has put on local hospitals prompted them to adopt new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a news release from University Hospitals.
Jennifer, an art teacher at Saint Ignatius High School, taught her daughters how to sew. She says she’s happy they were able to translate their interest in cosplay into something tangible to help others.
“I’m super proud of them and the work they’ve accomplished,” she said. “It’s infuriating to us that a country with all the riches we have, we can’t support our medical professionals as well as we could.”
Once she’s completed her project, Madeline is planning on going to Kent State University. She plans to major in digital arts.
While the group has also been asked by some community members if they could make masks for them, Madeline is just happy she can contribute to the fight against COVID-19.
“When I first started the project, I didn’t think it would be as big of a deal as it became,” she said. “However, every day when I read the news, and the projections for the next few months, and into the summer … it makes me feel better knowing that I can help out – that I can help people and help protect them.”
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