story by Ava Huelskamp | photography fair use

Her eyes focus on the road ahead as she makes her daily trek to the Hospice of Cincinnati Blue Ash Inpatient Care Center to drop off hand-crafted masks to hospice workers. East parent Jill Patton, along with her friend Sue Cheney, have worked together to amass a total donation of 345 handmade masks since April 8, 2020. Cheney sews the cloth part of the mask while Jill takes them home to thread the elastic through the sides.

Jill’s daughter, East senior Katie Patton, had been involved in East theater since her freshman year. When the Thunderhawk Theater was called upon by East Principal Suzanna Davis to make masks for local fire departments, first responders, and hospice workers, Jill knew she had to get involved, although she admits one of her reasons for helping out was what she would call “selfish.” 

“I needed to be reminded of why my daughters’ worlds, with all of their friends who they care very deeply about, were shutting down and imploding,” Jill says, in tears. “I needed to be reminded every day.”

East junior Becca Strack also chose to keep her hands busy with the mask-making initiative through the theater, and claims it has changed some of her viewpoints. 

“[Mask making] puts things in perspective for me,” Strack told Spark. “It shows me that not everything’s about me.” 

This perspective has also riddled Jill’s mind, as she witnesses the situation in hospice every single day. 

“It feels weird to have the young people be the ones sacrificing for the older people. It’s usually the opposite in our country,” Jill says. “It’s really incredible to be able to give back to people who gave their lives so that I have this privilege of sitting in my house and watching television.”

Jill was raised large-hearted and a hard worker, and has carried that value with her from childhood to adulthood and put it to good use during this time. 

“My mom raised us [with the mindset of] you help when you can,” Jill says. “Jesus died for one of us, so it doesn’t matter if it’s just one person. You help that person.”