Radford University faculty, staff using hobby to benefit front line medical professionals
The Radford Yarn Makers are not letting the current social distancing guidelines stop them from connecting, creating and, most recently, crocheting for a very worthy cause.
Because they cannot meet on campus as they normally do, the group of about 10 Radford University faculty and staff members catch up every Monday at noon on Zoom.
During the virtual gatherings, they work on their respective projects, eat lunch, show off their furry coworkers, entertain their kids and join in casual conversation. These simple interactions are even more meaningful during these challenging times, said Yarn Makers member Samantha Blevins, Ph.D., an instructional designer and learning architect for the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL).
“Everyone is just so happy to see other people and to see friendly faces,” Blevins said. “It has been nice to hang out, stay connected to one another and be able to find a project that we can all come together.”
That project was presented to the group by Melanie Fox, associate director of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Quality Improvement, and was inspired by a Facebook plea from a local healthcare worker.
The post reads: “Friends, I work at Carilion New River Medical Center. We are wearing masks from the time we walk in the building until the time we leave. Our ears are SORE. If anyone has crochet skills and would like to help, something like this crochet strap would be a great way! Some of the females have sewed buttons onto headbands and are able to use hair clips to spare our ears, but the guys don’t really have this option. I am making them when I can, but literally every staff member in the hospital has sore ears right now.”
Blevins shares a photo (below) of handmade mask straps crocheted out of cotton yarn, which is much more comfortable on the face and ears than thin, elastic straps that are typical of medical masks.
“There have been a lot of posts on Facebook, and I’ve seen commercials where nurses’ faces are sore. Their masks pull and are extremely uncomfortable,” Blevins said. “And, it just pulls at your heartstrings. You’re like, ‘Wow, these people are giving up everything.’ I can barely breathe in a mask when I go to the grocery store, and I can’t imagine having to wear one to do my job.”
Fox circulated the information amongst the group, and in true #HighlandersRise fashion, they immediately rose to the occasion.
After all, the knitters and crocheters are no strangers to service.
Earlier this year, they made 60 hats, gloves, scarves and cowls for students during the University’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. These items were hung around the campus fountain, free for anyone to take home.
“I think for our Yarn Makers group, it was a natural evolution,” Blevins said of their most recent service project. “We have always tried to look for avenues to give back, and this is just one more way we can help. These straps don’t take long to make. They’re really quick and easy. They don’t take a lot of yarn. For it to be such a small amount of time and amount of material, I think it makes a really big difference in the lives of others who are still out there having to go to their jobs and make sacrifices every day.”
Blevins said a Yarn Makers group member, who works in Radford University’s School of Nursing, is coordinating the distribution of the mask straps to area medical clinics and hospitals, thereby highlighting the Radford spirit and Highlander comradery that defines our campus and our community at all times regardless of what we are facing together.
#HighlandersRise is an initiative to spotlight how Radford University students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members push through fear and frustration to pursue their hopes and dreams, even in trying times. Our resiliency sustains us, and our responsiveness empowers us. The entire Radford family, both near and far, is demonstrating a tremendous amount of strength during the unprecedented times we are facing locally, regionally and globally.