There is always more room for good news, and Northeast Ohio residents are filling the void. With the rising need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks in health care facilities, as well as for personal use for grocery store runs or essential outings, community organizations are offering up their sewing skills. A unique doll company, a group of passionate kids, and a unique workforce development organization that teaches the art of sewing share a common thread.
The Cheric Doll Company
When Charlie and Eric Pohl, 16-year-old twin brothers and founders of The Cheric Doll Company in Euclid, learned of the shortage of masks in the community, they decided to temporarily shift gears from doll-making to contribute to the cause. With the help of their younger siblings, Ila, 12, and Davis, 10, the Pohls have been spending quarantine as an at-home assembly line cutting patterns, sewing masks and implementing quality control measures to make sure each and every mask meets the family standards. A selfless team effort, all masks are given free of charge to those in need.
“We go to St. Ignatius High School and are really focused on a service mindset and doing good for the community,” the brothers said. “We really honed in on that, and it’s something that’s been important to us.”
At the time of this writing, The Cheric Doll Company has mailed or delivered more than 200 masks to elderly neighbors, nursing homes, hospice care centers and an AIDS clinic in northeast Ohio, as well as communities in Wisconsin and Texas. Individuals and organizations in need of masks can contact The Cheric Doll Company on Facebook to place a request.
Giving Tuesday Kids
In a global effort to “do good” on May 5, the 6-month anniversary of the post-Thanksgiving tradition, Giving Tuesday witnessed citizens of all ages responding to the needs caused by COVID-19. An offshoot of the #GivingTuesdayNow movement, Giving Tuesday Kids encouraged youth to contribute their own time and abilities. Locally, Lauren Turos, 10, and Logan Williams, 10, coordinated community efforts to create, collect and donate masks to the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.
“We’re all in this together, and no matter how old you are, there is always some way you can give back and make a difference,” said Lauren Turos. “We want to continue serving our communities in any way we can for as long as there is a need.”
Lauren and Logan rallied support from 25 other kids throughout the community to sew and distribute 200 masks to people who do not currently have permanent housing, as well as individuals working on the frontlines at local homeless shelters.
Although Cleveland Sews’ educational programming that is typically held in schools, nonprofit agencies and public settings is on hold, individuals of the workforce development organization continue to keep the needle moving forward from home. Sharie Renee, founder and director of Cleveland Sews and Cosmic Bobbins, leads the effort to sew masks for the community and empower its participants in the process.
“We have been working to transition our educational work into paid employment for participants to work on the face masks,” said Sharie Renee. “We are doing some cool product innovation, too, by creating tools to make work consistent for home-based makers.”
So far, 2,000 masks have been sewn and distributed to the Cuyahoga Board of Health, medical providers, and local nonprofit agencies for frontline workers and essential employees. While the organization fields requests for 3,000 – 30,000 masks daily, Cleveland Sews aims to ramp up production and create jobs to produce 22,000 masks a month to meet the community’s needs. Mask orders and monetary donations can be received at clevelandsews.org to support the growth of Cleveland Sews.
In the spirit of everyday citizens doing good, Cosmic Bobbins is producing a limited-time “Ordinary People Doing Extra Ordinary Things” T-shirt with 100% net proceeds benefiting LEAP (Linking Employment Abilities and Potential), an organization working to advance participation and equality in society for people with disabilities in Northeast Ohio.