Cayuga students make a difference by supporting emergency and essential personnel

Cayuga Community College students are helping lead a community-wide effort to produce hand-sewn, reusable masks to donate to emergency and medical agencies as they respond to the coronavirus. After one month, the project has led to the donation of more than 500 masks.

AUBURN — Cayuga Community College students are helping lead a community-wide effort to produce hand-sewn personal protection equipment to support emergency and essential personnel responding to the coronavirus.

Working with other Cayuga students, New Visions and community members, first-year nursing student Gabrielle Scott has delivered hand-sewn reusable masks to area hospitals, fire departments and assisted living facilities. After one month, the project has delivered more than 500 masks, and is still going strong.

Already deeply committed to the nursing field and supporting local medical agencies, Scott said she was also inspired by other people who were donating masks to emergency and medical agencies.

“In this situation, it’s easy to feel very helpless. Most people are stuck in their homes, and it seems like there’s nothing we can do. When I found that other people online were making masks, and the masks were effective at protecting our emergency personnel, I knew that’s what I wanted to do, and that I could make a difference in this whole situation,” said Scott.

Scott started the project with a post to a community Facebook page and by sharing the idea with her fellow nursing students. She outlined appropriate patterns and materials to help people design protection equipment, and provided the necessary dimensions for effective masks.

Days later she was collecting bags of double- or triple-layer masks on peoples’ porches and delivering them to hospitals, assisted living facilities and other agencies.

“Some people have donated materials, and some students went out and bought sewing machines so they could help. I started out delivering masks because I didn’t know how to sew, but I eventually taught myself as well,” she said. “This has really made me want to make more of a difference.”

Cayuga’s nursing faculty praised the students for stepping forward to help members of the area’s medical and emergency response community.

“We are so proud of the compassion and resiliency our nursing students have displayed during this pandemic. They did not hesitate to adapt, formulate a plan, and extend their helping hands to fulfill a need during this crisis,” Cayuga’s nursing faculty said. “We are most fortunate to have such kind and compassionate individuals in our program and in our community.”

Scott and fellow Cayuga student Amanda Regnier started a Facebook fundraising effort to purchase supplies for people sewing masks, which has helped other people support the campaign, said Regnier.

“With Gabrielle starting this project, it opens up the door for so many people to get involved and really make an impact,” said Regnier. “There are ways for us to help and people who are getting involved are selflessly finding ways to do so.”

Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, both students remain committed to careers as nurses and in the medical field. They believe the current health crisis has further illustrated the importance of highly-trained, highly-dedicated emergency personnel.

And this project is the perfect way to support emergency personnel, said Regnier and Scott, regardless of whether it’s by contributing to the fundraiser, providing materials or sewing masks.

“Emergency personnel put their lives on the line to help our families, our neighbors and our friends. They’re not doing it because they’re required to, not because ‘it’s their job,’ but because they made a choice to put others first, to heal, comfort and educate,” said Regnier. “They are living up to that every single day without question. Now it’s our time to put them first.”

For more information about the project, email Scott at

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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