Cookson makes masks to help protect public

05/18/2020 12:30 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen Brooklynn Cookson, right, and her sister Sarah Cookson sew masks at their home during the COVID-19 pandemic to help others stay safe. They have made more than 300 masks. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Shown are several double layer cotton masks sewn by Cherokee Nation citizen Brooklynn Cookson and her sister Sarah Cookson. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen Brooklynn Cookson models a mask she made. She and her sister have made and donated more than 300 masks to essentials workers and individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – While Oklahoma is re-opening the state in phases during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Cherokee Nation making similar plans, the need for personal protective equipment is still in demand, and many people who can sew are making fabric face masks so others can stay protected.

CN citizen Brooklynn Cookson began sewing masks with her sister Sarah Cookson in April, and together they have sewn more than 300 masks, and are making more.

“We started making masks to simply help,” Brooklynn said. “COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way, and it has made many people feel helpless, but we found it important to utilize a skill that our late grandmother, Glenda McCollum, taught us in order to help. It has been really special to use her old sewing machines and fabric to make masks and donate them because we know if she was here, she would be doing the same thing.”

Brooklynn said she knows of the PPE shortage, especially for essential workers.

“We found it critical to help during this time due to the shortage of PPE and the seriousness and extent of the virus,” she said. “We wanted to donate masks to help people who could use one in order to protect their health and the health of others, and hopefully curb the spread of the virus.”

Brooklynn said they are making masks upon request as well as creating a stockpile in case people ask for them. She added there is no charge to receive a mask.

“We aren’t trying to profit off of this, we just want people that have to be out for essential trips to do it safely,” she said.

Brooklynn said they have donated masks around Cherokee County, but are also helping businesses and individuals in areas such as Stilwell, Muskogee, Checotah, Locust Grove, Fort Gibson, and have shipped masks to nurses in Tulsa; Fayetteville, Arkansas; and Dallas.

“We have donated several to hospital staff, Cherokee elders, restaurant workers and other businesses that are essential during this time, medical personnel, the VA (Veterans Affairs) hospital staff and community members in need,” she said.

Brooklynn said she and her sister took materials that belonged to their grandmother and made double layer cotton masks with a pocket for filters.

“The filter adds another layer of protection and has been highly recommended by medical professionals we have talked to,” she said. “We used a 1900 3M air filter with virus and bacteria protection in our personal masks.”

With the rise in mask making, materials such as elastic are in high demand and can scarcely be found on store shelves.

“We also started out using elastic in our masks so that they could be easily put on and taken off around the ears, but due to the high demand of elastic right now, once we ran out we could not find any more,” Brooklynn said. “So, we started cutting up unwanted T-shirts we had around our house and stretching them to make ties that go around the ears.”

She said she encourages others during this time to help in any way they can. “If you can help someone in any way, I would encourage you do that. Whether it is leaving a meal on someone’s porch that is in need, donating fabric to help people make masks, picking up groceries for an elder, or simply sending an encouraging message to a nurse or someone who needs a little sunshine in their day, I would highly encourage you to do that.”

Brooklynn said if people needing masks can contact her on Facebook or email
About the Author
Lindsey Bark grew up and resides in the Tagg Flats community in Delaware County. She graduated magna cum laude from Northeastern State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, emphasizing ... • 918-772-4223
Lindsey Bark grew up and resides in the Tagg Flats community in Delaware County. She graduated magna cum laude from Northeastern State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, emphasizing ...


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