Rising to the challenge

Senior Ramya Chaturvedi received a little help from her Wheaton friends in her mission to stop the spread of COVID-19 in her home country of India.

A collective effort from faculty, staff, students and alumni resulted in a donation of 1,071 masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to support Chaturvedi’s cause.

Associate Professor of Psychology Kathleen Morgan launched the Thousand Masks for Mumbai challenge in October when she heard about Chaturvedi’s efforts to make a difference in her local community. (Chaturvedi, an international relations major, is attending Wheaton virtually during the pandemic.)

Handmade masks from Mary Hillyer ’78

The response was swift. Morgan received shipments from many in the Wheaton community eager to help, including 75 handmade fabric masks from Mary Hillyer ’78 and another 45 from Jennifer Bliss Lobisser ’92. Professor Morgan herself sewed 80 face masks for the cause. She has been sewing masks since last spring to help organizations and individuals fight COVID-19.

Shipping the PPE approximately 7,600 miles from Norton, Mass., to Mumbai, India, posed a challenge, but the Office of the President generously stepped up to cover those costs.

Chaturvedi is currently at work distributing the donation to residents of a small coastal village south of Mumbai called Alibag.

“Alibag depends on tourism and due to COVID-19, the town’s economy was hit severely and people couldn’t afford to buy masks. These people are very grateful to receive these masks. It really made their day—and mine,” she said.

The senior expressed appreciation to all the faculty, staff, students and alumni who contributed to the success of the effort.

“I would like to thank each and every Wheaton professor, especially Professor Morgan, who made this happen. There were several obstacles on the way—like the shipment during COVID-19 times and the price of the shipment. However, I’m amazed at the strength of the Wheaton community. They made this possible,” she said.