Tucked away in Eaton Hall are dozens of sewing machines and a plethora of material, collected by Covenant volunteers and staff. The intent was to take it to Belize and share it with our partner there. The logistics of getting it there, however, proved difficult, especially when our spring break mission trip was canceled, and our collection sat untapped.

Covenant member Barbara Burnett spearheaded the Belize sewing collection effort. When she started hearing of the need for facemasks to help guard against COVID-19 germs, she thought we might be sitting on a goldmine, so to speak. Could our stockpile of machines and fabric be redirected and help those right here in our Austin neighborhoods?

Barbara had been reading Facebook posts of people looking for material. “I started to think that maybe we can do something different with all this stuff we have. People were posting, ‘We need material.’ Well, we have material. We have sewing machines. Getting it to Belize has hit a stumbling block.”

“I wondered if God had a different plan for this,” Barbara said.

She did a little research, and confirmed with Covenant member and facemask maker Maria Raper that the material we had was suitable for facemasks. She sorted the material, organized the machines and contacted Mission Director Whitney Bell to forge a plan to give some of our resources to people right here in our own community.

Barbara met (at a social distance) with Jennifer Ozuno, founder of TX N95 Covers Initiative, a volunteer group sewing N95 Mask Covers for medical personnel in Texas. According to the group’s Facebook page, the goal of the TX N95 group community group is to prolong the safe use of N95 masks. To do that, volunteers donate their skills, time and resources to make N95 mask covers that are then given to medical personnel. ()

After seeing Covenant’s material, Jennifer estimated that our fabric would be enough to produce more than 700 mask covers to be used directly by frontline personnel.

“Jennifer is really knowledgeable,” Barb said. “She’s already done all the work. She’s got about 250 seamstresses who volunteer for her organization, and she estimated that they would make 750 mask covers within a week.”

In fact, when Jennifer received the fabric, she immediately distributed it and many of the mask covers made with the Covenant-donated fabric are already being used by medical personnel on the front lines, right in our community, Barb said.

“Every time we have run low on materials, God has shown up with just what we need,” Jennifer told Barb.

“We are thrilled that these items that had been sitting in storage waiting to be sent to Belize are being used right here to serve this incredible purpose,” Mission Director Whitney Bell said. “It’s such a blessing that some of our sewing supplies will not just make an impact in Belize, but will first make an impact here. That really is our whole approach to mission: Start locally and grow from there to the ends of the earth!”

“Barb knew God was calling her to collect these things,” Whitney said.  “She had no idea it would come in handy during an impending pandemic. God is good.”

Barbara said there is plenty of material and sewing machines left for our partner in Belize. “There is still SO much left for Belize,” she said. “I am so grateful that I was able to give away needed fabric and that we could help out.”

Do you have a story, big or small, about what you’re doing to serve others during this time? Let us know by sending an email here.