Seven-year-old Madelyn Lytle isn’t quite spinning straw into gold, but she’s close — the young girl is churning out homemade masks for medical workers from her home in Braselton.
Madelyn, who’s at home with parents Michelle and Mike Lytle and brother Shane, 12, has been working with her mom to sew masks for medical workers short on supplies and long on stress.
The family was motivated to pick up sewing when a friend of Michelle’s, a nurse at a local hospital, posted on social media about how she was working a shift with only one mask.
“She was panicking,” Lytle told The Times.
So she and her daughter pulled out the sewing machine Lytle had been given by a family friend a couple of years prior, looked up a design online and went to work not only making masks, but teaching themselves how to sew at the same time.
“I looked up a design and went to JoAnn’s and bought a bunch of fabric and me and my daughter just started sewing,” she said.
They’ve made more than 60 masks that they’ve distributed to nurses and another friend of Lytle’s, a respiratory therapist. Material shortages are striking even crafters, as Lytle said they had to modify the design to use jewelry string instead of elastic bands — something they couldn’t find in stock.
In short, they’re sending masks to anyone who will take them.
“A friend of mine, her cousin is an ICU nurse in Oregon, and they’re having a shortage. We were going to pack some up and send some out there,” Lytle said. “My dad has cancer and he’s going through treatment, and we’re giving him a bunch to bring to his oncologist for the patients there.”
For its part, Northeast Georgia Health System is working with a team of seamstresses to make and test medical masks to ensure they’re viable for frontline staff.
Madelyn is a student at Chestnut Mountain Creative School of Inquiry, a Hall County elementary school, and she’s been home since schools shut down earlier in March. Her mother is a hairstylist who took herself off the job at her salon because her son, Shane, could be at risk should any of the family catch COVID-19.
“The salon hasn’t shut down yet, but my son has asthma — and again it takes a village,” Lytle said. “We’re just kind of hunkering down. My husband works for UPS, and his job is considered essential.”
Though the family is a two-income household, Lytle said she’s not too stressed about making it through this period of social isolation to attempt to keep the virus from spreading.
“My faith is strong, and I feel like God will deliver,” she said. “I feel like as long as we do our part in the community, we’re going to be fine.
“I’m just thankful my husband has his income. We’re making it work for now.”
For her own part, Madelyn misses going to school and seeing her friends at Chestnut Mountain, but she’s been seeing her teachers through online lessons and, in her free time, learning to sew to help local health care workers.
“They’ll maybe get sick” if they don’t have masks, Madelyn said.
And the 7-year-old has a message for those workers.
“Thank you, and stay safe,” she said.