Making Masks for Community

Close shot of masks under thread and needle, on sewing machine.

May 01, 2020
Jackie Treiber

When live performances became another series of events put on pause during the unfolding of the Coronavirus, Theatre and Dance's Costume Shop Manager Kim Heide wondered how she and her colleagues could make a positive impact. Heide, whose seamstressing skills have served Gonzaga, Whitworth, and Spokane Falls Community College cumulatively for over nine years, reached out to Theatre's department Chair, Charlie Pepiton, and discovered that other costume shops were producing masks in place of costumes. Turning to Whitworth senior and first-hand assistant Sarah Gray, the two were able to fire up their sewing machines and steam irons to meet a need unlike any other in their lifetimes.


Group of cloth masks made by Kim Heide and Sarah Gray for Spokane and GU community.

A stack of masks ready for distribution.


Working from a Washington State Department of Health pattern, the two have crafted over 200 masks with cotton ties that can withstand multiple machines washes, bleaching, and high heat drying better than elastic. Their masks are also latex-free and fully adjustable. 


Self portrait of Kim Heide in a mask she sewed.

 Kim Heide takes a selfie with one of her creations.

Gonzaga's Community Engagement & Service Director Molly Ayers distributed the masks, with 180 masks going to The Arc of Spokane. Gonzaga's newest initiative, Opportunity Northeast, distributed the remaining 20 remaining masks across Northeast Spokane in partnership with Second Harvest, Spokane Public Schools, Communities In Schools, the Zone, and GU's Sodexo. Another batch is going to Gonzaga's Plant Services next week. Ayers believes the Gonzaga community is primed for this work, stating that "Kim and Sarah's work represents what is best about Gonzaga - using our gifts in ways that benefit our community and world."