RANDOLPH, NJ- Randolph Middle School paraprofessional Ruthann Dezenzo has sewed and donated more than 750 masks to help combat COVID-19. The masks have been given to many essential workers including nurses, doctors, dentists and police officers. She has also made masks for senior citizens in nursing homes to ensure they have protection. Additionally, Ruthann has been able to distribute donations beyond our local community, shipping the masks to health care providers in South Jersey and Pennsylvania.

"I could not have donated so many masks if it was not for the Randolph community," Ruthann said. "I have received donations of elastic, thread, fabric, and gift cards along with monetary donations that I've used to buy more supplies."

Ruthann has been very intentional and thoughtful in the design of her masks with the hope and mindset to inspire others. "I'm starting to personalize masks for birthdays or celebrations to try to bring joy during this crazy time," Ruthann said. "A teacher at Randolph Middle School's grandmother was turning 91 so I made her a special birthday mask. The greatest joy is receiving pictures with people wearing my masks. I received a picture of a lady who was 100 years old in a nursing home wearing a mask I sewed along with health care providers and children too."

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In addition, Ruthann has gone above and beyond to find solutions for common problems with prolonged face mask use. Many doctors and nurses start to experience pain from the elastic rubbing against their ears. She created special headbands with buttons to help prevent this problem. Her headband was also able to assist a patient who was unable to wear a mask due to an underlying medical condition. The headband Ruthann created was able to be used by the patient.

If all of her hard work and efforts weren't enough, she has also started to find other personal protective equipment to produce. A Randolph resident who is a nurse requested a surgical cap on Facebook. Ruthann did some research online and was able to start sewing caps to further protect healthcare workers.

Ruthann is just thankful for the opportunity to serve. "Honestly I'm just doing what I LOVE to do and that's sew," she said. "I wake up early before classes start and sew. After dinner I sew. During spring break, I started sewing by 8:30 AM and most nights I didn't stop until after 11:00 PM. Every night I filled all the requests I had for that day. By the time I woke up in the morning I had more requests. When I'm not sewing masks, I'm making memory quilts out of t-shirts or memory bears for people."