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Teen provides protective masks to front-line workers at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside

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When she heard that first responders and front-line medical staff were in need of personal protective equipment, or PPE, Lynbrook High School sophomore Lorelei Dillon decided she was up to the task of learning how to make them.

She honed her craft and has provided about 300 masks to essential workers, front-line employees at hospitals and first responders, with her first batch going to the medical staff at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside. 

“It feels great to be able to do something for the people who are protecting us,” Lorelei said. “It’s given me a sense of purpose and positivity during a very uncertain time.”

As schools changed over to remote learning amid growing cases of the coronavirus, Lorelei said, she learned of a PPE shortage and asked her mother, Sheila, to teach her how to sew so that she could help. After taking a quick tutorial, she learned a simple pattern and got to work. When she was finished with her first batch, she contacted MSSN to help workers there. 

Sheila said she was proud of her daughter’s efforts. 

“My husband and I have always been involved in our community in various capacities, be it PTA, coaching or through the village, and have tried to instill In our children the importance of volunteering and doing what you can when you can,” she said. “To see Lorelei work every day on this project fills our hearts with pride. The fact that she understands that her small contribution can make a big impact is very gratifying.”

As she continued to get the hang of it, Lorelei got in contact with the Moms Making Masks Facebook group based in East Rockaway, and started contributing to their collection, while also keeping up with her own distribution. Her output has gone to help many people in need of masks, including the Lynbrook Fire Department, village officials and the Lynbrook Police Department. Lorelei noted that her father is a retired LPD officer.

To make her masks, Lorelei purchases cotton quilting fabric because, she said, her research taught her that it’s a breathable fabric, but also offers protection. She said there is also a method to the theme of her masks. When she donated to the LPD, she made them black and blue to match the colors of officers’ uniforms. When she donated to the hospital, she made the masks out of bright colors or a pattern with dots on it as a way to cheer up patients by giving them a pleasant design to look at. 

“I’m happy to be able to do my part to give back to the people in my community that are working so hard and being so brave,” Lorelei said.