Helping charities, one mask at a time

Natasha Casebolt uses her creative chops for good

Natasha Casebolt beside her trusty sewing machine. - Photo: Mike Hoffman

Putting a positive spin on a bad situation is usually referred to as taking lemons and making lemonade. In this case, Natasha Casebolt made masks.

After weeks of lockdown and working feverishly on her sewing machine, Casebolt was able to donate $1,500 to the National Council of Voluntary Organisations and $3,300 to Big Brothers Big Sisters from her sales of homemade masks. The most impressive part of the story is that she had no experience sewing anything prior to this venture.

After flying back to Cayman from Europe, Casebolt went straight into isolation. Admitting that she has a hard time sitting still, she decided to learn how to use the sewing machine her mother had given her years ago.

She found a YouTube video that gave instructions on how to make a mask, so she got a sheet of material and made one for herself.

“Then I thought, ‘I can’t waste the whole sheet’, so I cut it up and made, like, another 50,” Casebolt said. “I posted on Facebook [that] if anyone wanted one, to get a hold of me, [and] I’d give them a mask. When people came for them, they kept trying to pay for them and I didn’t want money – I was just trying to stay busy – so I decided to take [it] and pay it forward.”

At the time, shops were closed, so access to material was limited, but through donations and some creative thinking, she managed to get what she needed to keep going.

“At first, I just asked people for cloth donations, and I had a lot of people happy to donate,” Casebolt said. “Luckily, my mom had got me tons of thread, so I was sorted there, and I got creative, cutting up old Lycra fishing shirts I didn’t wear to use for the ear straps.

“Guy Harvey even donated six of his own personal shirts to make masks. I made about 60 just out of six shirts, and people loved those. I ran out in 24 hours!”

The next job was to choose charities to which she would donate the funds. She went with the NCVO and Big Brothers Big Sisters because “underprivileged children and their families would be the most affected by the pandemic, and I figured could use the donations the most”.

Casebolt said that she found the process of making the masks very therapeutic, stating that it definitely helped her mentally through the lockdown.

“I could have very easily become one with my couch and gotten very down,” she said.
On some days, she spent a couple of hours making masks, but on others, when she had orders or was making the Guy Harvey versions, she was at her sewing machine for up to eight hours straight.

“I probably at this point have made over 1,000 masks,” she said.

The coffers of the two charities are bigger, thanks to Casebolt, and she has been happy to find a purpose through difficult times. She recently started working for Diamond Properties, which just makes sense, as you might say she’s a real gem.

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