Merrimack Valley Life

Sewing teachers & students use talents to help others

Paula Trout, sewing teacher at Granite State Arts Academy in Salem, models a mask sewn by students at the school.

Paula Trout, sewing teacher at Granite State Arts Academy in Salem, models a mask sewn by students at the school.

Granite State Arts Academy sewing teacher Paula Trout, along with her husband and two children (who are GSAA students) and her sewing students are making and giving out handmade cloth masks to local hospitals, rehab centers and nursing homes in Salem and surrounding towns.

To date, the group has sewn and donated more than 1,600 masks to various facilities and groups in need including Salem School District bus drivers and paraprofessionals who are delivering breakfasts and lunches to children throughout town.

Anyone who wishes to help create masks or can suggest a facility that is in need of them can e-mail Paula at p.trout@gsaanh.com.

Another group of mask-making volunteers who have joined the effort are students who learned to sew in the Lazarus House training program, led by 10-year volunteer sewing teacher Bonnie Mahan of Salem. Mahan assembled more than 100 kits for students to complete using the refurbished sewing machines they received upon graduation from the program. Some of the students, including Pam Aldrich of Salem, continue the effort from their homes using their own supplies and other designs.

Granite State Arts Academy students Sarah (left) and James Trout are shown sewing face masks to be donated to area facilities. So far the Trouts and their classmates have made and distributed more than 1,600 masks. Courtesy photos

Granite State Arts Academy students Sarah (left) and James Trout are shown sewing face masks to be donated to area facilities. So far the Trouts and their classmates have made and distributed more than 1,600 masks. Courtesy photos

“I made mine with an opening so that you could insert an N-95 mask and preserve the precious masks much longer that way. Some hospitals were requesting that,” Mahan said. “The outer fabric masks we make can be washed, and the inner mask can be put back in.”

“The students have really stepped up,” Mahan said. “They are excited, and they are so happy they can do that. People are home and want to be able to help, while protecting their families.”

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