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Tulsa teen makes face masks for community

Posted at 7:38 PM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 20:43:29-04

TULSA, Okla. — Making masks to help protect friends, family and frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic has become a popular effort as people shelter at home. However, few are as young as a Tulsa girl, who used the skill she learned from her grandmother to help those who need a mask as well as others who need a meal.

Isabella Suttee, 14, took scrap fabric and elastic from old costumes to stitch up her first mask.

"I feel like I have a servant's heart," Isabella said, 'and it's just a calling from the Lord for me to really help people."

In no time, she made dozens. That kind of hard work and determination made her mom proud. It was a chance comment made during a conversation with friends that took Isabella's project to a new level.

"I have a group of friends that were text messaging and we were sharing stories, pictures of what our kids were doing when they were bored and I sent a picture of a mask," said Kari Suttee, Isabella's mother. "Someone in Pittsburg said, 'Can you send one? I will donate to a cause of her choice.'"

Inspired by the thought of helping even more, Isabella made 62 masks. She sent each one off with a hand-written thank you note.

"I have shipped some to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Texas and then a lot in the local area," she said.

The donations poured in. Then her mother's employer, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, matched those donations. Before long, yet another company pitched in, too.

"So, in total, my last donation with all of the corporate matching added up to around $2000!" Isabella said.

She wanted to be sure the money went to those who are being most impacted by the pandemic, so she reached out to a family friend who is a physician. After learning how area seniors are unable to leave their homes for fear of infection from COVID-19, Isabella gave all of the money to Meals on Wheels of Metro Tulsa. The agency has seen a great increase in demand during the pandemic and is working overtime to provide more meals for homebound seniors who are the greatest risk in the covid-19 pandemic.

"I see their commercials, I volunteer for food banks and Meals on Wheels," Isabella said. "I just love it so much and I really want to help people."

Spending hours at her sewing machine, searching out fabric and elastic donated by family friends, helped her realize one person can make a difference. She and her mom agree, this project was one that started with a simple idea and kept growing. They also recommend checking with employers to see if they offer corporate matches for donations which helps make even more of an impact.

"I've also earned it's not an easy process, and that service comes with hard work. It is the most rewarding thing. I love doing it," Isabella said.

To learn more about Meals on Wheels of Metro Tulsa, click here.

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