Making masks, making a difference 

With plenty of time on their hands and plenty of fabric in their basement, Alex ’26 and his mom, Suzete, set out over Spring Break to start a project. What they didn’t know is that the project, to sew hundreds of masks, would help hundreds of health care professionals who did not have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) as the outbreak of coronavirus took hold.  

“At the beginning, it was more like a project,” Suzete said. “But then, we got the thank you notes and photos from nurses, firefighters, and doctors telling us they are using them. It was extremely touching and inspired us to keep going.” 

“At first it was a pastime for my mom and me to get through Spring Break,” Alex agreed. “Then when we saw them helping others, it felt super good because we knew we were making a difference.” 

Alex and Suzete have made 1,000 cotton washable masks so far and have donated to Johns Hopkins University Hospital, the Pentagon Police, and the Branchville Volunteer Fire Company, among others. 

While Alex cuts the fabric, traces the masks, and turns the fabric inside out, Suzete focuses on the work that needs to be completed on the sewing machine. One mask takes about 10 minutes to make, but Alex and Suzette are doing them in bigger batches now and on a much quicker time frame. 

“I like to sew, so I had all kinds of fabrics,” Suzete said. “I was always doing little projects. And there was a conversation thread with some friends who mentioned that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) was asking people to make masks. Alex said to me, ‘Oh, you should do this, mom!’” 

“It brought us purpose in a time of uncertainty,” Suzete added. “Now we can barely put a dent in the demand." 

Alex hasn’t been able to do as much work now that distance learning at Landon is in effect. He tries to get in an hour here and there during the week, but sometimes he dedicates eight-hour stretches on the weekend.  

“School is always first, but if I see I have time to do it, then I do it,” he said. “We know that it’s going to help people so we are making as many we can. One more mask we make is one more doctor who can use it.” 

Their project not only caught the attention of those they were trying to help, but also the news media. Read more about the profile of Alex and Suzette on WTOP.