All across the country, Americans have picked up needles and thread and begun sewing.

Homemade masks—a signifier of civic responsibility, a supplement to social distancing, and a DIY pathogen trap—have become a much-needed item, as supply chains race to catch up with demand. 

In Raleigh, where the Carolina Ballet season has been put on hold, production staff are dealing with the disappointment of a season deferred by putting their talents to use elsewhere. 

Over the past two weeks, Carolina Ballet Costume Director Kerri Martinsen has organized a team of 30 volunteers to sew masks. Because elastic (like toilet paper or other fundamentals) is in short supply, the Carolina Ballet is dipping into its own stash of elastics to put the masks together. 

So far, the volunteer ballet sewing ensemble has sewn 2,000 masks. 

Carolina Ballet is working with local organization Covering the Triangle, which is distributing the masks to prison inmates, the homeless, and other people in situations that make social distancing especially difficult (or impossible). According to a press release, the masks made by Carolina Ballet have so far been distributed to the Durham Rescue Mission and Durham Housing Authority. 

The press release also notes that many of those volunteering are local costume makers that, when the Carolina Ballet season was postponed, have lost work. 

You can learn more about the efforts of Covering the Triangle here

Contact deputy arts and culture editor Sarah Edwards at 

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