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Sewing group steps up to make masks for foster children

When the founders of the nonprofit Feeding The Fosters came down with COVID-19, a local sewing group made masks for 120 children in just a few days.

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — The Kopec family is quite familiar with COVID-19. In March, Robert was one of the first in Pinellas County to contract the virus. He was followed by his daughters, Samantha, 16, Laura, 14, his wife, Diana, and son, Robert, 12.

“At the time, the only thing on our minds was the virus,” Diana said.

The virus was an irritant. It slowly crept through their family. Everyone is fine now, two months later. It was also burdensome on the teen’s mission of running their new nonprofit, Feeding The Fosters, which finds meals for over two dozen foster families in Pinellas and Pasco counties. The girls are the founders of the group and Diana serves as the president.

“We’re less than a year old and it was started out of Bright Futures scholarship hours,” said Diana.

The food is a blessing. Feeding The Fosters serves up to 220 meals per day. But, while the Kopecs were dealing with COVID, needs didn’t vanish. The community helped with meals. The need for masks started rising and Diana was wondering how they could help foster families get proper face coverings.

In stepped Molly duPont Schaffer.

“We could not resist the opportunity to get masks to children,” Schaffer said back in early April.

The group Schaffer helped jumpstart near the outset of COVID started sewing. In a flash, 120 masks were donated to Feeding The Fosters.

“It really was a godsend,” said Diana.

Schaffer’s Facebook sewing group, Masks For Pinellas County Healthcare Providers, has made more than 3,000 masks and given them primarily to hospital employees. The foster families were added to the list after the group saw the need.

“One of the beauties of this whole thing has been seeing the community pull together,” said Diana. “It’s just been really gratifying to watch.”

Samantha and Laura started Feeding The Fosters after serving meals to the children at the Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranch in Safety Harbor. The concern now is making sure foster families, some of which have up to 14 people in their homes, have masks for when school restarts potentially in-person in the fall.

Learn more about Feeding The Fosters on Facebook and Instagram.

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