BY DENNIS SILVA II | firstname.lastname@example.org
A little more than a week ago, Devon Carrillo realized she could play a significant role helping others during this crucial time of need.
With healthcare face masks at a premium due to precautions for the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, the Taylor High sophomore varsity volleyball player knew she could make a difference.
“I really thought, ‘Oh, well I can make masks and I have materials at home I can use,’” Carrillo, 16, said. “It started from there. A lot of people ended up seeing them and posting about it, so then I ended up just making them for basically anyone who wanted one.”
Stores around the Katy area are either out of masks or running out of them as healthcare workers and others need them now more than ever. Healthcare workers need masks for their own protection in treating patients of the coronavirus. Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged all Americans to wear a mask when they leave their homes.
In some parts of Texas, like in the Rio Grande Valley, wearing masks when leaving home is a mandated order.
In about a week, Carrillo has made 50 masks—30 for healthcare workers and 20 more for family and friends. Through the use of her own sewing machine, which her aunt gave her as a birthday gift when she was 10 years old, and materials from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores and Walmart, the aspiring medical surgeon has put her skills to use.
“A lot of people have been really positive about it, especially the healthcare workers,” Carrillo said. “It gets me emotional about how they show their appreciation and thank me, because I eventually want to be a healthcare worker. Knowing I’m able to help them really makes me feel better.”
Her parents, Cesar and Jackie, could not be prouder.
“She’s always been that way, as far as doing things for others,” Jackie said.
While this is Carrillo’s first time making masks, it is not her first time sewing.
She is a veteran, having sewed since she was 10 years old after being taught by her grandmother Pamela, Jackie’s mother.
“She’d want to sew a skirt or shorts or a top,” Jackie said. “She took a couple of Jo-Ann craft classes and made a pillow. I would cut out patterns for her so she can make clothes for herself. She’s made pillow covers for her aunts. She’s very talented, crafty.”
Carrillo has also made pajamas and blankets. For Carrillo’s quince, the celebration of her 15th birthday, Carrillo and her grandmother Maria del Carmen, Cesar’s mother who is a seamstress in New Orleans, made the dresses. Carrillo sketched all of the designs.
To learn how to make masks, Carrillo watched YouTube videos and had help from Cesar designing and perfecting techniques. Carrillo had been using elastics but has since gotten used to making her own string out of 100 percent cotton.
Jackie has a lot of friends in healthcare. Carrillo made masks for them initially. Then those friends posted about Carrillo’s masks on social media, and since then Carrillo has established a loyal and appreciative base.
Though some friends have offered to pay for masks, Carrillo gives them out free to healthcare workers. One mask takes 20-30 minutes to make.
“It’s a bit overwhelming,” Carrillo said. “All my free time has gone to making masks. It keeps me pretty busy, but that’s OK. I enjoy it.”
Some of Carrillo’s inspiration comes from playing volleyball at Taylor. Coach Louise Crite is big on servant leadership, on and off the court.
“As a program, there is a lot of leadership,” said Carrillo, a middle blocker and outside hitter. “We take service and leadership very seriously. It starts with effort, and from there you get that from every player and it makes our program what it is. It’s going to help us later on in life, showing us how collective can be and how you can have success as a whole.”
When she’s not sewing, Carrillo is painting or drawing. She cooks and bakes. She had a musical stage of her childhood where she played the drums, piano and violin.
She’s always experimented and taught herself to learn different things. In the process, she’s made a considerable impact for others.
“It’s nothing anybody compelled her to do,” Cesar said. “It was all on her own, and when your kid takes it upon themselves to do something nice, it’s always encouraging.”