Putting fun into the coronavirus fight
No one really likes wearing a face mask; Lisa Baumgartner is trying to make it fun for kids come September.
She has created reusable masks with unicorns, dinosaurs, ladybugs and other designs they may find appealing.
They will be handed to 400 students as part of the annual Back to School Extravaganza organised by Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, and his brother, Dwayne; another donation was made to Bloomfield Nursery where they will be worn by staff.
The lion’s share, roughly 2,500, will be split between students and staff at the Bermuda Centre for Creative Learning and the Bermuda High School for Girls where her 13-year-old daughter, Rachel, is a student.
“I knew that if schools were to go back in masks would be needed, so I reached out to the school,” she said. “While I am always happy to support our school community, this is clearly a moment in time when we need all hands on deck as we try to navigate safely through the Covid-19 crisis. So when Funkins made the transition from making cloth napkins to making cloth face masks, it was a natural fit to provide masks to help keep our BHS family safe.
“As a BHS parent, I know how much effort and care has gone into running virtual school for our children, in supporting students remotely and in planning for a safe return to school.
“If I can help out in a small way, such as supplying masks for when school resumes, then it’s the least I can do.”
BCCL heard about the donation and asked if she could help them also.
“I said absolutely,” Ms Baumgartner said. “All students and staff will be covered.”
She started Funkins in 2011 when in need of reusable place mats for her sons, Braeden and Brett, to take to school.
Looking around, she couldn’t find any that were appropriately sized. She tried cutting adult ones in half, but they frayed when washed.
Eventually, she started making her own out of fun fabrics; other children in the class soon wanted them. Once she posted her creations on Facebook, the requests started pouring in.
Funkins’ lunch bags, napkins and place mats are now made in Taiwan and sold all over the world.
“We were just in the process of manufacturing napkins for the back-to-school season when the Covid-19 pandemic struck,” Ms Baumgartner said.
To keep the company going, she decided to make and sell face masks instead.
“It wasn’t hard to make the switch,” she said, explaining that she was already using the tightly woven 100 per cent cotton that the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention recommends.
“They are not hospital grade. They are just meant to help stop the spread of Covid-19.”
Children with breathing difficulties need to be cautious, she cautioned. “I am asthmatic myself. You have to be really careful. I go for a thinner, breathable cotton fabric when I wear masks.”
Ms Baumgartner is now in Canada on a multi-stop journey that began with a flight to Atlanta on May 14.
“The airports were empty,” she said. “It was very different from flying at peak season.
“The Atlanta flight up there had about 90 people. The middle seats were all empty. I felt very safe on that flight. Then we had to fly to Dallas, Texas and up to Vancouver on American Airlines.
“I felt very safe on both of those flights. They weren’t full. The crew were wearing face masks. They did a thorough job on the cleaning.”
The Baumgartners had to stay at home for two weeks on arrival. “Someone in the Canadian Government calls regularly to make sure we are all right and quarantining,” she said.
“I usually come anyway in June, Funkins’ peak season. Typically our inventory is shipped from our factories directly to Amazon and our partner warehouses, but due to Covid-19 a lot of businesses, Amazon included, put a halt on receiving any goods that were not PPE and essential items.
“This meant that we had to change our Funkins logistics and distribution plan, with very little notice. So my focus this month is now on operations instead of sales and marketing, which is usually what I’m doing in June.”
Covid-19 testing an issue in US
Argus buy-up a ‘huge conflict’
‘Filthy beast’ recalls unusual childhood
Offers made for parts of AS Cooper
Sudden death in Warwick
No excuse for that headline
Man injured in stabbing
Take Our Poll