By Amy Nicole Tangel
In a new era of coming together while social distancing, a 12-year-old Long Island girl is taking action to help others by using her talent of sewing to make masks for those in need for her community, and the response has been an outpouring of gratitude.
Madison Eddington, who lives in Medford, NY, with her parents, Brian and Annette and older brother Colin, has made more than 100 masks, and her list is growing. She said she was simply inspired to start making masks when she saw on the news there was a need. She had everything she needed at home to get going, so she said, ‘why not?’
“In my basement I found a whole three yards (of material), and I am already done,” she said.
Within just a few weeks, what started out as a hobby has become a contribution to her local community. With her father at the helm of the social media front and Madison behind the sewing machine, they made helping others a family mission.
Each mask is sewn, wrapped and delivered through no contact, with the help of her mom and dad, to mailboxes of those in need. People throughout the Patchogue and Medford communities, and beyond have been requesting masks from Eddington through social media, as she daily creates an ever-growing list of people.
The seed to sew was planted when Madison received a sewing machine as a Christmas gift from her aunt several years ago. The sixth-grader said she began sewing when she was 6 years old and took her first class. Her father describes her passion for sewing like a love at first sight moment. He said she was the one who came to them and asked to continue.
“She would actually call me and ask to stay (at the class) for another hour,” he said.
Patricia Fiebe, of Patchogue, a manager for FedEx and on the frontlines of the Covid19 fight every day with other employees, recently received masks from Eddington. Fiebe, a mother of one who lives with her elderly and immune-compromised parents, saw Mr. Eddington’s post on a Facebook community page so she put in a request. Within a few days she had a special delivery. Not only did Fiebe receive a mask to protect herself at work, but one for her daughter, mother and her sister who also works for FedEx.
“Thank you, Madison. You have no idea the impact this has made on me and my family. (The mask is) just making me feel a little more comfortable going to work, and my daughter feeling not so scared if I need her to run out with me,” she said.
Prior to the pandemic, Madison had a wide variety of things she would sew on a regular basis. When many other kids her age wouldn’t even dream of sewing, she was making pencil holders and pillowcases along with headbands and beach bags, just to name a few items in her inventory.
“I even made a quilt,” she said proudly.
When she is not sewing, Madison emphatically said she is all about sports. As a 6th grade student at Oregon Middle School, in Medford, she plays soccer and lacrosse. She is a soccer goalie and travels with her teams. With sports on hold for now, she has taken her competitive edge to a different area and is working on goals to make more masks per day.
“I make about 25 per day and they take about 15 minutes each to make,” she said.
Madison’s Math teacher, Beth Warnken has been teaching at Oregon Middle School for 31 years and said she was not surprised that Madison rose to the occasion to help out her community in time of need.
“I saw a post on social media that shared what she was doing, and she inspired me to sew some masks as well!,” she said.
Warnken said Madison was a “Student of the Quarter” award winner this past fall, earning an award given to students who exemplify excellence in academic qualities. The award is given to students who are always prepared for class, have good grades and who set a positive example for their peers by always going above and beyond with everything they do.
“All of Madison’s teachers agreed she fit the criteria, and we were proud to recognize her,” she said.
Masks made by Madison have been donated to essential workers with Long Island Community Hospital, Stony Brook University Hospital and CityMD, as well as nursing homes and nurses who have requested masks directly through social media.
Christine Cancel, a private nurse from Medford who serves as an essential worker in her community said she received two masks in her mailbox the same afternoon of her request. Cancel shared her appreciation not only for the work Madison is doing, but for what it is doing for her patients in particular.
“She did such a wonderful job as a lot of my patients are pediatrics, so walking in with your typical mask can scare them, and these were a little more friendly,” she said.
Medford resident, Sandi Morrissey who received masks for her family, which includes her 79-year-old mother, said Madison has been so generous in making and donating the masks for her local community.
Randie Vargin, of Farmingville received a mask to wear at her job at a cardiologist’s office where she said she has to be every day. “The quality is outstanding. You would have never known it was made by her. The fact that she is doing this for those who are ‘essential’ is so gratefully appreciated,” Vargin said.
While people she has helped are busy sharing their gratitude and trying to stay safe, Madison is busy sewing masks, doing schoolwork, and waiting for her delivery of more material to come in.
“It makes me feel happy. I want to do more to help people,” she said.
*Photos courtesy of Brian Eddington and Sandi Morrissey