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‘A small action repeated makes a large impact’ -- DPSCD teacher makes masks for frontline workers

BERKLEY, Mich. – Tanya Thomann is a Detroit Public Schools Community District special education teacher who is helping workers on the frontlines as she gives back to her city.

Sewing has always been a hobby for Thomann, but now she’s putting her skills to good use.

She said it all started when a friend asked her to make a mask for a pregnant nurse working in a local emergency room.

“Within a day of that request, more and more people were becoming made aware of the shortage of personal protective equipment, and the need for that for people who were still out in the world in the workforce," Thomann said.

After she made that first mask, she had a hard time turning anyone away. Using her sewing machine and flannel fabric she had in the basement of her home, she got to work.

When schools closed, Thomann missed her students so much that she wanted to help Detroiters in any way she could.

“I know that a small action that is repeated makes a large impact," Thomman said. "One stitch isn’t such a big deal but when I knit many stitches, I have a sweater or a hat or a scarf or whatever it is that I’m making. That small action repeated makes a difference and and that’s what this is.”

In no time, that first mask led to nearly 900 others and before Thomann knew it, a friend pulled up with a van filled with fabric.

“I think people want an opportunity to help. I think people want to want to be able to be of service, but we just don’t often know how," Thomann said. "We need someone to tell us how we can plug in.”

Thomann asked around to see if anyone had time to help wash and dry fabric. She said she was stunned by how many people answered the call.

“Within hours, people started showing up to take garbage bags full of fabric home with them," she said.

Some of the women made mask and others assembled kits for people to put together DIY masks at home.

“One mask isn’t gonna make a difference, but helping each other out, leaning in, one mask plus another mask plus another mask? That’s a staggering number to me, and it’s only because of the community of people that are willing to help," Thomann said. “I cry every time I think of it because so many people have been helped.”

She said her students have been her inspiration the entire time.

Thomann said it was important to her that for every mask or mask kit made, a donation was made into the city of Detroit.

If you’d like to donate fabric or help out, you can reach Thomann here.


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