Acts of kindness in Mississippi

Thursday, June 25, 2020
Carrie Saucier

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” You’ve probably heard that phrase, which is super relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s been a rough time for thousands of TSA employees, but many are facing the adversity with a smile and a helping hand extended. Here are three heartwarming stories of kindness in Mississippi:

Never before sewn? No problem!

What do you do when you’re on Weather and Safety Leave? Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport TSA Officer Carrie Saucier learned to sew and help her community.

“My first couple of days sitting at home, I thought, ‘Staying home for two weeks won’t be too bad,’” said Saucier. “Well, on day four, I went stir crazy. The news channels were going non-stop, and all I kept hearing was how our medical personnel didn’t have proper equipment.”

Growing up in a family where she was always taught to help others, her immediate thought was, “What can I do to help?” So, she reached out to several nurse friends and asked if they could use cloth masks. They all said, “Absolutely!!”

So, now what? Saucier had never sewn a day in her life. She turned to her mom for help.

Saucier told her mom, “We have to do this.”

Her mom’s response? “Let’s get started.”

They pulled whatever material they had on hand. Saucier started measuring and cutting, while her mom began sewing. After the first day, mom gave daughter a crash course in sewing, and the two were in business.

“We cut, pinned, sewed, pleated and sewed some more for about 14 hours a day,” said Saucier.

Request after request came in. Despite being exhausted, Saucier’s answer was always, “Sure, I can make you some; how much do you need?”

By the end of the first week, they made about 300 masks and donated them to several local healthcare and military veterans facilities as well as emergency responders.

“I am so thankful for our healthcare professionals,” Saucier noted, “and I can smile just knowing this small thing we did is helping others in such a big way.” 

Ruby Bouder

Juggling long days

Ruby Bouder learned how to sew from her grandmother. Bouder, a TSA program assistant at Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport, sprang into action, putting her sewing skills to work during COVID-19’s peak.

“I have been making masks when I’m not working,” said Bouder. “I give away masks to the elderly, high-risk and frontline essential employees.”

Her days are often long, but fulfilling, as she juggles responsibilities like purchasing and payroll for TSA, homework with her 10-year-old son Jonah, and sewing masks late into the night.

3-D masks

Wiley Evers

Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport TSA Officer Shawn Foles turned to 3-D during the pandemic. Foles used much of his downtime to produce surgical mask extenders with his 3-D printer.

“The first batch I printed went to children at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and I’ve gotten requests for several more from around the state and country.”

Three hard-working TSA employees, three ways to help their communities stay safe during this challenging time, all making lemonade out of lemons.