Cougs step up.

Numerous courageous people on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic—nurses, doctors, first responders, and essential workers—sacrificed and helped us all. Many WSU alumni, faculty, and staff sought ways to support them, and to reach out to those in need…


DEBBIE MCNEIL (’77, ’82 MEd Elem. Ed.), former owner of Quilted Heart fabric store in Pullman, is using her sewing skills to help Pullman Regional Hospital cope with a shortage of face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

WSU-themed masks
WSU-themed masks (Photoillustration from @WSUPullman/Facebook)

“I saw other people making masks on Facebook and I thought, ‘Okay, that’s something I can do to help locally,’” McNeil says. “Thank goodness for high school home economics.”

She then contacted the hospital, which released their preferred mask design and a video tutorial.

“There are 5 zillion ways to make these masks,” McNeil says. “I waited to make them until the hospital said what they wanted.”

The hospital provides surgical sterile wrap for lining the back of the masks. Each bag contains enough material for 28 masks.

As states reopen their economies in phases, masks are either encouraged or required for both employees and customers at most businesses. Though masks come in a variety of forms, at minimum they must fully cover the wearer’s nose, mouth, and chin to be effective.

“Masks aren’t going to be the end all, but I’ll keep making them as long as they need them,” McNeil says. “I have more fabric than I have money, so this is what I’m doing to help.


SAM GILBERT (x’89) who works in construction in Spokane, sewed and donated hundreds of masks for health care workers using WSU-themed fabric. Other Cougs donated fabric and funds to help Gilbert get a new sewing machine for his efforts.

Use masks in addition to other preventive measures, put on and remove them with clean hands, and wash them after use.