In 2018, all Samantha Beury wanted for Christmas was a sewing machine.
Samantha had always been into art and crafts and had been sewing by hand for a while, but was looking for a change of pace.
“I was hand sewing and I didn’t really want to hand sew a lot any more,” said Samantha, now a sixth grader at Bunker Hill Middle School. “So I asked for a sewing machine.
“I just wanted to start using it right away,” Samantha continued. “It came with a disc on how to use it, but we couldn’t figure it out.”
More than a year later, Samantha wasn’t just an ace with the sewing machine, but she was making an impact in a way she would have never imagined. Shortly after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Samantha began making medical masks and giving them to neighbors and friends who work in the medical field.
Samantha’s efforts have thrilled her parents, Jim and Natalie Beury, who have seen their daughter commit herself to learning how to use her sewing machine. Samantha began working on her own projects after taking private classes last year to figure out how the machine works.
“She’s really familiar with the sewing machine,” Natalie said. “She took a liking to it.”
A few weeks ago, just as residents were being told to stay home and social distance as the pandemic ramped up, Natalie and Samantha were going for a walk when Natalie came up with a great idea for Samantha’s next project.
“I saw on Facebook or the news that there was a shortage of masks,” Natalie said. “There was a tutorial on YouTube on how to make them.”
“I thought maybe it would be a new project and it would be fun to make some,” Samantha said.
Samantha went onto YouTube to view a tutorial on how to make a medical mask. Using fabric, elastic and her trusty machine, Samantha went to work and was able to create about 20 masks during the pandemic’s first couple of weeks.
Samantha typically works on the masks after finishing her school work for the day. It takes about 15 minutes to create one mask.
Word got around about Samantha’s project after Natalie posted a photo of Jim wearing one of Samantha’s masks on social media. So far, Samantha has donated masks to three medical facilities: Voorhees Pediatric Facility, the maternity unit at Lourdes and Samaritan Healthcare and Hospice.
“(I liked) the thought that it might help somebody and protect them,” Samantha said about what she enjoyed most about her recent project.
Samantha had to stop making masks for a short time after running out of elastic. A new supply of elastic arrived early last week, allowing Samantha to resume her project.
Since Samantha’s project began, the demand for masks has increased thanks to new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asking Americans to wear a mask or similar facial covering while out in public. While Samantha is planning to make some masks for family members who have requested them, she wants to make sure the bulk of her masks go to those health care industry.
Samantha loves how the simple act of creating masks is having a positive impact on health care professionals who are trying to keep residents healthy. When asked if she ever imagined her passion for sewing would lead her to making a difference during a history-defining pandemic, she simply said, “Not at all, no.
“I was just sewing for fun,” Samantha said.