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Brocton girls sew masks for area health facilities

Caring also is contagious

Morganne Kelley

BROCTON — Sisters Breanna, 13, and Morganne Kelley, 11, are among the many New York students who are facing the challenge of keeping up with their school work at home since the statewide outbreak of COVID-19.

“It’s been tough,” their mother, Katie (Delcamp) Kelley, told the OBSERVER. “But they’re really working hard to keep up.”

That the girls also devote a portion of their day to helping local healthcare workers proves, even in this period of social distancing, there are opportunities to serve at any age.

On Sunday, Noel Ossman, unit secretary at Chautauqua Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, reached out to Kelley to see if she could sew masks for nurses in her unit.

“When Noel texted me, my immediate response was, ‘No, I don’t sew,'” Kelley told the OBSERVER. “Then my girls said, ‘Mom, we do — we can help!’ They just love their Aunt Noel and wanted to help the nurses there.”

Breanna Kelley

According to Kelley, Breanna and Morganne have been sewing for approximately a year and have made several small projects including pillows and aprons.

“My mom, Ruth Delcamp, used to sew all the time,” Kelley explained. “They’ve been using materials they acquired from her to make these masks.”

Ossman told the OBSERVER that she was shocked at how quickly her nieces responded to her request. “I messaged Katie at noon on Sunday, and by 4 p.m., I had 20 masks in my hand,” she said. “I offered to pay them, and they refused.”

The girls are continuing to work on the masks and have sent more to CNRC. They are also planning to donate masks to Brooks Memorial Hospital and Westfield Memorial Hospital. “Every day, they do school work in the morning, take a break, do some sewing and crank out a few more masks,” Kelley said. “Then they go back to their school work.”

Ossman said the response at CNRC has been wonderful. “Everybody is enjoying them,” said Ossman. “I brought them in on Monday and handed them out to all the girls on my floor, and they gave some to people they know. We also have some workers here who are making them, and there is a Dunkirk woman on Facebook who reached out and said she’d drop some off as well.”

Amy Graves, CNA at Chautauqua Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, is pictured here wearing one of the masks that Breanna and Morganne Kelley made this week.

She pointed out that the benefit of the fabric masks is that nurses can take them home, wash and reuse them. They can also be worn under the disposable masks provided by CNRC, thus preventing these masks from becoming contaminated.

“You know, the girls could have told me, ‘No, we don’t have time to do this,'” Ossman reflected. “Instead, within a few hours, Katie was dropping masks off at my house.”

Kelley said that, while the girls are continuing to cut and sew material for the masks, they are challenged to find elastic cord. “My mom tried to order elastic online, but we can’t get any until May,” she explained. “We just recently got in contact with Joann Fabrics, and they are supplying kits for free as long as you donate what you make.”

While Joann Fabrics is not open to the public, Kelley said the Lakewood store will be contacting her when the kits arrive so that she can make arrangements to get them. Those who would like to donate materials to the girls’ mask making efforts can contact Kelley at 969-5553.

“This was all their idea,” Kelley said. “I’m just beyond proud of what they do every day.”

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