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A dean at The University of Alabama is selling quilted masks and donating all proceeds to the Rising Tide Scholarship fund.

Dr. Lisa Dorr, the associate dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, said she comes from a "long line of quilters." When her mother, who owns a quilt store in Michigan visited Dorr in March, they realized that masks were going to be needed to help curtail the spread of COVID-19.

"I started making masks then and as we got closer to school resuming in August, we were concerned about mask pushback from students or people not having them and I remember being at a meeting with the College of Arts and Sciences folks and saying, 'I will make sure that we have masks there,'" Dorr said.

Now, Dorr said, making masks now consumes her life. She joked that her home has now become a "sweatshop." Even so, Dorr said that she enjoys creating these masks and it relieves stress for her.

"I can kind of mass produce them -- they need sort of various parts, some of them are quicker than others, like the elephant one takes a little bit longer, but both my kids are in college, so it's not as though I need to make dinner for anybody else," Dorr said. "I've never been one who can just sit watch TV without having something in my hands and I watch a lot of football, so it allows me to binge watch TV without guilt."

The original design for the masks came from a quilt that she originally designed for an auction, but it was postponed because of COVID-19. Rather than discard the quilt, she repurposed it for the masks which she said "sell out instantly."

As the holiday season approaches, Dorr said that she has some designs lined up. For Halloween, Dorr created masks with patterns of candy corn, pumpkins and ghosts.

(Photo Courtesy Lisa Dorr)
(Photo Courtesy Lisa Dorr)

"I did Halloween masks because Halloween was a very important holiday in my family with my girls and so I had tons of Halloween fabric that I can make, so we did that," Dorr said. "Now I'm moving into holiday ones and some of them are Alabama themed. It'll be an elephant maybe holding a piece of holly or put on a green background and then I also have Christmas fabrics that are just plain Christmas masks, or holiday masks."

Dorr said that she mainly sells the masks at Clark Hall. So far, Dorr said she has raised over $1,000 from selling masks at $5 apiece, although customers can always donate more if they choose. All proceeds are donated to the Rising Tide scholarship fund, which was endowed in 2017 to provide a helping hand to students facing a variety of obstacles or challenges

"We can't have too much money in the scholarship fund, we constantly need it," Dorr said. "I know people think with an endowed scholarship, there's just tons of money that you can kind of dip into but they only generate a certain amount of usable funds, every year. The more that we can get in the scholarship fund, the more we can help students."


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