Before coronavirus, Robert Wood Johnson medical student Shari Bodofsky spent her days in classes, working in a radiation oncology unit with breast cancer patients, and running a handmade toy company online in her spare time. Within a matter of weeks, that all changed.
Now Bodofsky, a Cherry Hill native, is sheltering at home, taking classes online, and is using her sewing machine to make masks instead of toys. Her initiative, “Shari’s Butterfly Effect,” donates handmade masks to food pantries, food banks, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilties, and other places where “people are in close contact and should be wearing masks but are really struggling to get them,” Bodofsky said.
The decision to start making and donating masks was an easy one for Bodofsky. “When COVID-19 hit, I thought, I have a sewing machine, I have fabric, I know how to do this,” she said. “The opportunity presented itself to do a good thing. It’s an interesting transition from having a little toy business online to my whole apartment [filled with] stacks of fabric and scissors and irons and cutting boards.”
As a medical student, Bodofsky understood firsthand the need for safe health practices, and was inspired to do her part to slow the spread of the pandemic. “It’s a great way to connect at a community level,” she said.
“It’s so easy to feel isolated during COVID. It’s also a great way to still be using my medical knowledge in a way that helps people, helps stop the spread, and takes the load off of emergency rooms.” Sewing masks also combines Bodofsky’s medical background with her creativity toward something impactful.
Now at almost 300 masks, Bodofsky’s “labor of love” has assisted hundreds of people in her community in North Jersey. “It has been so inspiring and humbling to connect with essential workers, families, and patients,” said Bodofsky, who hopes to continue making masks for as long as needed.
“It’s an ongoing process, doing a little bit each day,” she said. “After being a full-time medical student, taking classes, and preparing for the Step 1 exam, at the end of day, I’m sitting at my sewing machine.”