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PSE family joins forces to produce masks for medical community

Published on Friday, April 3, 2020

sebestyen family

BCSD provided photo / The Sebestyen family is making medical masks at their father's business.

As medical personnel continue to fight COVID-19 from the front lines, families around the world are looking for ways to help out, even while trying to adhere to social distancing restrictions.

One of the things residents are doing is making masks to send to the medical community.

A Philip Simmons Elementary family has joined the brigade and is making masks at the family’s dry cleaning business.

Robert Sebestyen owns Americlean/Julius Alterations and Cleaners on Highway 41. He is joined by his wife, Marti, and their two children: second-grader Abigail and kindergartener Lukacs.

The family most recently joined forces to make about 30 masks that went to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

Robert referenced a video he posted to Facebook in which he described a conversation with his children about the Pledge of Allegiance, and what the stars and stripes on the American flag represent.

The stars might represent the 50 states, but Robert told them they’re more symbolic than that – they represent the people who live in those states.

“I said, ‘kids, we’re in a time of need right now; our nurses, our doctors, need help,’” he says in the video.

Robert asked his children if they would be willing to give up a little bit of their playtime during the day to help make masks.

Growing up in the drycleaning/tailoring business, Abigail and Lukacs were already a little familiar with sewing. They have helped measure and cut material and align the elastic that goes inside the masks.

The family got material from Hobby Lobby – all brand new fabric that was washed with hot water after purchase.

They made about 50 masks – some were donated to a local veterinarian tech, a few went to some neighbors but the bulk of it went to MUSC.

The masks are washable, 100-percent cotton with polyester inserts.

Marti said she has enjoyed seeing them work together and thinks it is a good learning experience for them.

“It’s awesome,” she said.

lukacs and abigail

Lukacs and Abigail work on the masks.

They are continuing to make some, and are not placing a price on the masks – but are asking for people to donate whatever they can in exchange for masks.

Abigail said her brother has cut the elastic and gotten handy with the fabric chalk. She also helps cut the elastic and has sewed a little bit.

When they were asked if they miss school, both responded “YES” very enthusiastically. Abigail is in Robyn Wyman’s class at Philip Simmons Elementary and Lukacs is in Colleen Bendig’s class. They said they miss their teachers.

Abigail was scheduled to participate in All-County Chorus and star as Mrs. Paroo in her school’s musical, “The Music Man,” but both have been canceled – “and I’ve been looking forward to those things for so long,” she said.

While they miss school, they have also enjoyed helping out with the masks – “amazing”, “great” and “happy” were the words they used to describe how they felt about lending a hand.

The family also made a separate Facebook video that portrayed Robert, Lukacs and Abigail going out to “fight” COVID-19, but Abigail ends up being the voice of reasoning that explains to the other two – and viewers – that the way families need to help “fight” it is by washing their hands, practicing social distancing and staying safe.

Abigail said she enjoyed being the one to deliver that line, “because you can’t really fight it with a gun or something. You have to…wash your hands, keep the distance and stay safe.”

Monica Kreber