By Crystal Hayduk
The district’s youngest students are smiling behind their new face masks, a gift from Charles Budd, an junior at Chelsea High School.
The mask donation to North Creek Elementary and the Early Childhood Center fulfills part of the requirements for Budd’s Eagle Scout project, which he hopes will be finalized in late summer.
“I wanted a project that was attainable, relevant, and would make an impact on my community,” he said.
Budd identified the need for small masks as the oldest of five children in his family—the youngest are six and four years old.
“The situation in our family is that we have to fiddle with and adjust average masks because they don’t fit young children’s faces,” he said. “I figured it must be a real hassle for the schools.”
The COVID-19 pandemic response hit close to home for Budd because he knew his father put in long, hard hours in the healthcare profession at Henry Ford Allegiance Health in Jackson, and he observed his mom juggle working from home with parenting five kids.
“As the oldest, it’s my job to pick up the parental slack,” he said.
In light of the pandemic and his responsibilities as the eldest, Budd began to consider assembling homemade, reusable, washable face masks. “This project will have the lasting impact of helping kids stay safe.”
Budd learned how to sew the pattern from his maternal aunt, Megan Templeton, who lives in Utah and had already been busy handcrafting masks. With funding from his family, he chose a variety of kid-friendly textile designs from JOANN fabric and craft store, wire from Amazon, and t-shirts. Budd powered up his mom’s sewing machine to fashion masks that included a flexible nose bridge fed through a casing, and adjustable ear loops made from t-shirt yarn.
Once Budd, a self-proclaimed total beginner, perfected the process, he solicited 10 volunteers from among family friends and church members to help with the stitching. Budd made 100 masks, and each volunteer made anywhere from five to 25 masks to reach the grand total of 300.
Through this project, Budd learned how to pace himself and how to give people autonomy, yet also provide help when necessary.
Budd is grateful for his mom’s support, who also happens to be his scout leader due to the disbanding of his former troop.
When the troop dissolved at the end of 2019, Mrs. Budd, who learned about scouting from the ground up as a leader when Charles was a cub scout, wanted him and his brother Daniel to be able to earn their Eagle Scout Award, which they were close to receiving.
She registered them as lone scouts with herself as their leader. Mrs. Budd said, “When you understand the program, you see how much the requirements dovetail with things you want them to learn and are doing with them anyway.
“Having a reason to hang out with my boys is the best part of being their scout leader. With this project I’ve been able to teach Charles how to sew, how to organize volunteers, and how to follow through—and we’ve chatted and watched movies while we’ve worked, which has been lots of fun.”
Mrs. Budd said she’s proud of how quickly Charles learned sewing techniques, which can be tricky for beginners, and of his organizational and leadership skills.
On behalf of the Chelsea School District, Superintendent Julie Helber thanked Budd for his time and effort to help the students.
“Child-sized masks are difficult to come by and when Charles asked if he could help, we were thrilled,” she said. “The masks are very well made and follow all mask requirements. In addition, there are many patterns to choose from that young students enjoy. Our administration was thrilled to be able to have options for students who need masks.”