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Local Youth Theatre Group Creates Protective Masks For Medical Personnel

Local Youth Theatre Group Creates Protective Masks For Medical Personnel

Peninsula Youth Theatre's "Seam Team" typically meets on Tuesdays to take on sewing projects for PYT's mainstage productions, such as the recently cancelled musical, Newsies. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the Bay Area in such a significant way, this scrappy team of volunteers decided to join forces to make cotton protective masks and deliver to local hospitals that are in desperate need of supplies.

Last week, Seam Team member Holly Mendel emailed the volunteers with a video and information about mask making made from PYT-donated supplies of fabric that could be re-purposed for use in hospitals. The group "jumped on the idea," said Susie Lew, another member of the team.

Even with social distancing in place, the team members quickly conducted research, obtained best practices from other volunteer groups creating masks and protective gear, and collaborated with local health care professionals to obtain the proper approvals for production and delivery. The group has since created a Google document with links to videos and tips for additional volunteers who would like to get involved, and the team has already completed 103 masks, which have been delivered to Kaiser Santa Clara.

"Hearing about health workers facing extreme shortages has been very upsetting," said Lew. "We wanted to do something about this growing issue, and sewing protective masks makes us all feel less helpless. The masks are simply an extra layer of protection to be used along with the N95 masks."

"We appreciate the PYT community coming together to support the frontline healthcare workers during this important time. Every bit of help makes a difference and we are thankful for PYT's teamwork and contributions," said Yana Vaks, physician in the Pediatric ICU at Kaiser and member of the PYT community.

Like many other volunteer organizations, PYT's Seam Team believes these do-it-yourself protective masks are better than nothing-at least until the shortages these hospitals and health care professionals are facing are replenished.

Karen Simpson, PYT's Executive Director recently posted on Facebook, "Our volunteer costume crew, aka the 'Seam Team' have turned their amazing skills to making much needed protective masks to donate to medical personnel. But they need your help! They are looking for donations of ¼ inch elastic and more hands to sew."

Donations of elastic can be dropped at PYT Studios in Mountain View through the mail slot. If volunteers are interested in helping, no auditions are necessary. Just fill out the sign-up form and the Seam Team will put you to work!

Jenny Garcia, a long-time PYT volunteer costume designer who coined the name "Seam Team" during PYT's production of LES MISERABLES, describes this group of busy volunteers as "the backbone of costumes at PYT." She added, "The team will make patterns from nothing, they take crazy ideas and make them real, all with a smile and 'can do' attitude. This pandemic has driven home what wonderful, giving ladies they are."

Founded in 1992, PYT is a 501(c)3 non-profit located in Mountain View, CA. Their mission is to provide outstanding theatrical learning experiences that develop leadership, emphasize responsibility and foster teamwork in a supportive, respectful environment. PYT is currently offering online classes for children to young adults ages 4 years to 20 years. For more information, please visit

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