Until this week, Northeast Middle School student Cadence Driscoll was using her new sewing machine to make hair scunchies as she taught herself to sew.

The 13-year-old took up the hobby after asking for a sewing machine for Christmas. She had gotten pretty adept a making the hair ties when her mom, Desiree, mentioned the COVID-19 virus was causing a shortage of facemasks.

“I don’t even know how to sew,” Desiree, a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at Northeast Elementary, said, “but Cadence got on YouTube and figured it out.”     

Within a few days, she had already turned out about 40 cotton masks with elastic fasteners and was getting faster with each one.

She surpassed her original goal of 30 and just kept sewing, thanks to having plenty of supplies on hand. Her great aunt, Lois Trenkamp, shared two big bags of cotton scraps and remnants. Cadence had plenty of elastic — just the right width — left over from her scunchies, and she also got a nice supply of thread for Christmas.

She’ll be delivering the finished products to the DeWitt Community Hospital Foundation, which will make them available to anyone who needs them, including Wellspire (Westwing Place) Senior Living, foundation director Robin Krogman said. Interested persons may contact Krogman at 563-659-4233.

If she were in school, Cadence would be filling her time with classes, homework, and traveling sports teams. She plays volleyball, basketball and softball and is generally a busy youngster with every minute of her day planned out. She says she loves school and one day hopes to study law. “She’s a good-hearted person,” her mom describes.

For now, when she isn’t sewing, Cadence has been keeping busy watching videos and television, playing games and doing activities with her siblings, Easton, 10, and Tenley, 7, and playing with the family dog, Bentley.

Cadence says the worst part of the COVID-19 cancellations is not being able to go to school, but she points out the family still is able to get outside. Desiree, like many other adults, says she is worrying about the unknown and feeling helpless.

Although sewing face masks is a new venture for Cadence, Desiree, as a mom and a teacher, is used to organizing events, such as blood drives. “We try to do what we can and set a good example,” she says.

It’s obvious that has rubbed off on her daughter as well.