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“I get really bored so I was like why not find something to do to help out as much as I can. So why not bring some brightness into the dull situations,” Abigale Acerbi says as she sews masks for healthcare workers across the country from her home outside of Conway. The Conway High School senior said she is able to finish a week’s worth of school work quickly leaving her days free as the school system is closed because of COVID-19. Acerbi said she started the process with a handheld sewing machine, but quickly realized it was not going to be sufficient. She purchased a tabletop sewing machine, learned how to use it on her own and began posting how she was making free masks for healthcare workers. She keeps a record of the masks she has made in a small notebook tucked beneath her sewing supplies. With each order, she said, she adds a small note to thank the healthcare workers for helping in the pandemic. The masks are made of cloth and not CDC certified. “But, it’s better than nothing. I’ve gotten notes from nurses who said they don’t have a mask at all while they work,” she said. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

Conway High School senior Abigale Acerbi only got her sewing machine a week ago.

“I didn’t know how to use the machine until I went out and bought it,” Acerbi said, “I know how to hand-sew, my grandmother taught me, but I thought the sewing machine would be faster.”

Ever since then, once her online schoolwork is done, she spends the rest of her day sewing masks for healthcare workers across the country.

Her mother works for McLeod Health, and she knows firsthand about the shortage of masks for healthcare employees helping patients with COVID-19.

“She told me about how they had been running low on masks, and I thought if I made them masks, it would be better than [them wearing] nothing,” Acerbi said.

Once she got the hang of it, she made a public post on social media letting healthcare workers know she was making masks and to contact her to make the free order.

Thus far she has sent masks to some local citizens, but also to Florida, Kentucky, and Maryland.

Acerbi said she started out with the small quarters of fabric available in town, but started buying different fun fabrics online, even including some popular Lilly Pulitzer fabric that was a favorite with her buyers.

In the last week since she’s had her new machine, she’s made 35 masks total, with 25 ready to be shipped out, and she’s doing it all on her own dollar.

She said she has spent about $200 thus far, but she says it’s worth it, as her own health concerns make her mission a little more personal.

“I am doing this is because I myself have health issues and I know that this virus could hurt me if I were to get sick from it,” Acerbi said. “I have a hyper-inflated lung on the left side that wraps around my heart. I was born with it, and when I was a baby, I had RSV [a respiratory virus].”

Acerbi said she also suffers from costochondritis, which is where the cartilage that connects her rib to her breastbone gets inflammed from time to time.

“So I know that if I help make the masks, it could help possibly stop the spreading, more than it would … if these nurses and doctors did not have a mask at all,” she said.

She has the help of her family and her boyfriend, who help cut the fabric and ready the envelopes for shipping. The project keeps her busy, and keeps her mind off of the fact that she’s missing out on some precious events of her senior year.

Luckily though, CHS has said they will reschedule prom, but the school district has yet to make any changes or plans regarding graduation ceremonies.

“I’m the type of student that I’ve got all my online work done as soon as it’s given to me. I’ve gotten bored quickly, and it’s [sewing] kept me busy to not think about [senior year]. It gives me a positive outlook, and I’m not just sitting at home not doing anything,” she said. “Normally I do my school work when I get up, then I’ll get done around noon and just start working, and do it until I get ready to go to bed.”

When she isn’t doing schoolwork or sewing, Acerbi also runs her own photography business called AAcerbi Photography.

She said she plans on attending Coastal Carolina University in the fall to major in Early Childhood Education to get her masters and to minor in photography to help improve her skills.

Healthcare workers needing masks can find Abigale Acerbi on Facebook.

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