Sarah Lentz makes masks to raise funds for charity

Giving to those in need

Warrington student shifted her sewing ability to help those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic

Sarah Lentz has always been passionate about sewing. She started making blankets for the homeless when she was nine years old and continued to prioritize others throughout her childhood. Now as a first-year student at the Warrington College of Business, she’s using her sewing skills to help those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lentz (BSBA ’23) is interested in working in sales after graduating, but as she works toward a final decision on the industry she’ll some day work in, she is making sure those in Gainesville and beyond have what they need. Read more about her passions and how she’s aiming to help others during COVID-19.

Q: Can you give me some background on the non-profit you ran in high school ​making blankets for the homeless? How did the idea come about and how were you able to make an impact?

Lentz: “I began to make these blankets when I was nine years old after my mom read an article in the Gainesville Sun about the need for blankets for the homeless. From that day, I have gathered friends, family, church volunteers and my volleyball club to make simple “cut and tie” blankets for the St. Francis House and Grace Marketplace. Since then, I have loved being able to give and build up other people up by making either blankets or blessing boxes with essential hygiene items.”

Q: When did you decide to transition to sewing masks?

Lentz: “I learned how to sew while in 2nd grade at Millhopper Montessori School here in Gainesville, I’ve always tried to find time to sew; although that is more difficult these days. My favorite thing to make are quilts, however, I can make a variety of things with my sewing machine. This mask project started on April 1st when my eye doctor, Dr. Nausheen Khuddus with Family Focus Eye Care, reached out to me and said their office was running low on the N-95 masks. This was just the spark I needed to get my machine out and kill a lot of time that had suddenly fallen into my lap. I grabbed my long-time friend, Kendall Price, whose mom works at the eye doctor and we made six masks for their office. Kendall is studying Industrial and Systems Engineering. She is a student at the UF Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. To date, we have made over 319 masks and that number continues to rise. I love being able to tangibly give back to the community that has shaped me. I have saved all of my fabric scraps since I began sewing at the age of 9. I’ve been using all of this fabric to make these masks. I have had to go buy more material (a lot of Gator fabric) to supply the masks, but with donations, this has been made possible. Many of the people we have made masks for having been generous, allowing Kendall and I to donate $1.00 for every mask we make to the Alachua County Education Foundation Emergency Food | Food Basket Fund. This fund helps to feed homeless students in the Alachua County School System.”

Q: Walk me through the process – What do people have to do to get a mask?

Lentz: “I posted about the masks Kendall and I have been donating on my Facebook and LinkedIn pages. From these posts, people have reached out to me through comments or messenger to order them. Others have messaged Kendall and our parents. They simply ask and we will make them for pick-up or we can ship them if they live outside of Gainesville. We just ask them to cover the cost of priority mail shipping; $7.75.”

Q: If readers want to participate with you, how can they?

Lentz: “If you would like to participate we are gladly taking material donations and donations for supplies! Please reach out to me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn. If they need a mask, they can contact me as well.”

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share about the masks that we haven’t touched on?

Lentz: “The last week and a half has been more than I would have ever dreamed of. I honestly thought when I posted on social media about making them for people I would get a few people interested. I would have never imagined making this over 300! This has also been really fulfilling as it connects all of us no matter our income or socioeconomic status. I’ve made masks for all walks of life while putting a little peace of mind into lives during this difficult time.  This brings me so much joy.”

Q: How impactful has your undergraduate experience been so far?

Lentz: “Growing up in Gainesville, I feared this might hinder my college experience by not going away to school. That has been far from the truth. I have met so many amazing people and continue to grow myself as an individual through clubs and involvement. This past semester, I was fortunate to be a member of BUMP and LDP, both as mentees. In the Fall, I will be a BUMP Mentor, FLA Mentee, HLC participant, as well as a Community Outreach Coordinator for Project Makeover.

“My experience as a Gator has been nothing short of a dream and I am so happy to have the opportunity to attend the University of Florida as a 4th generation Gator!”