Courtesy of Cat Gilligan
Since the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, WCHS communities have been instructed by Gov. Larry Hogan to stay home and self-quarantine as the virus continues to spread. While the quarantine has kept people separated, it has also brought them together in many new ways.
As a way to help others during these difficult times, a couple of WCHS students have taken the time to spread positivity by doing good deeds and helping those that are greatly affected by the pandemic.
WCHS junior Cat Gilligan started sewing and donating face masks to local hospitals to help those who are at high risk for COVID-19 or cannot access masks at all. Gilligan was inspired by a friend’s Facebook post, in which she was also making and donating masks to areas that might need them nearby.
“When the pandemic first started, I felt like I needed to do something other than just sit at home and wait until it was over,” Gilligan said. “Once I saw others making masks, I thought it would be a great way to help my community and stay busy during this overwhelming time.”
Fortunately, getting started was an easy process as Gilligan was able to reach out through social media to get the help of friends and families in the WCHS community to donate fabrics, as well as having help from her mom, who had a lot of experience in pattern-making.
“My mom taught me how to cut and sew using a pattern,” Gilligan said. “I wouldn’t have been able to make the masks without her, I’m very thankful to a few generous families from Churchill that dropped off and contributed fabric that I then used to cut and sew the donated masks.
In the last couple of weeks, Gilligan has sewn and donated about 100 fabric masks to Sibley Hospital in Washington D.C. and plans on continuing her project.
There have been many other ways in which students and families at WCHS have reached out to help their communities. While it can be hard to take a long break from the structure of school, meeting up with friends, extracurriculars and other activities, these students have found wonderful ways to use their free time.
WCHS sophomore Devon Sims got started with her project by making an announcement on social media that she would collect gift cards from local grocery and food stores so that she could raise money for those who may be struggling to pay for food during the pandemic.
“My mom and I did it together to help those in poverty,” Sims said.“It allowed those who can’t afford food to be able to eat.”
At the beginning of the quarantine, Sims set out a box on her doorstep designated to collect gift cards from various grocery stores in her area. In order to minimize face-to-face contact during her project, she asked the people who wanted to volunteer to leave their donations in the box.
Sims wanted to make a difference because she knew that even though the pandemic did not affect her directly, there were other people that were in need of support. Being able to raise $500 for those who could not afford food during the pandemic was a dream come true for Sims, her family, and those in poverty.
“I have gotten a lot of positive feedback and people are very thankful for the money we were able to raise,” Sims said. “I think the more people that are able to help, the better they will feel and the more they will appreciate during a very stressful time, like this pandemic.”
While WCHS students have found many ways to reach out to groups in need locally, WCHS freshman Roman Messali took a slightly different approach and considered another group that has very much been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
During quarantine, Messali noticed that a lot of people had started contributing to or even creating their own fundraisers for those in need. To make a difference, Messali set out a plan to donate to the International Rescue Committee, an organization that helps groups in countries that do not have access to advanced healthcare systems prepare for and fight against the coronavirus.
“As I was staying up to date with the news about the virus, I found that one group remained unnoticed: refugees,” Messali said. “While this might not be specifically for my community, refugees should not be disregarded and forgotten.”
Along with support from his family and friends, Messali was able to raise money for refugees so that they could be better prepared for the virus when it hit and be able to prevent future cases. For those who are instructed to stay home during the pandemic, having to follow through with social distancing can feel neverending but it can also be the perfect time to improve in many areas and work on projects they otherwise would not have enough time for.
“I think projects like this can bring us together by enabling us to work together to aid those most in need,” Messali said. “Whether they’re within our borders or abroad, I think we all need to do all we can to help those less fortunate than us. Helping others has always been a good way to bring us together, especially in these dire times, and we should continue to do so!”