Published on April 1, 2020 by Ashley Smith  

The skilled hands that usually oversee the costume shop in Samford’s Department of Theatre and Dance are among the many using sewing skills to help serve those fighting on the frontlines of coronavirus pandemic.

Mary Gurney, instructor of costume design and instructional designer in Samford’s School of the Arts, and Sonia Crist, assistant costume shop manager, have joined the Alabama Face Mask Project, initiated by the Jefferson County Department of Health in partnership with Christian Service Mission. From former Broadway dressers to neighborhood seamstresses, the Birmingham sewing community is churning out protective wear as fast as they can get supplies. The group is sewing homemade face masks and gowns for local health care workers, first responders and other medical professionals combating the COVID-19 response.

For Gurney, the project has a personal motivation. Her daughter-in-law is a nurse at UAB and she wanted to not only protect her child but also support the healthcare community.  

 “I pray for the folks who might be wearing them. My husband and I have been self-quarantined since we traveled to Kansas City 13 days ago,” Crist said. “I miss my lab students and my coworkers at Samford. Making masks makes me feel connected to a larger purpose.”

The demand continues to rise. Just in the last few days, the pair received the request for 200 more masks from UAB Hospital. 

Those interested in joining the effort can visit the Facebook page to help with calls for supplies or see videos on how to make masks and how to contribute.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.