For a football player, the face mask is one of the most important components of the helmet, providing protection for the face.

For a patient whose cancer treatment or medical condition weakens his or her immune system, a face mask provides protection from germs and bacteria.

About 80 Central Crossing High School varsity, freshmen and junior-varsity football players spent a portion of their afternoon Oct. 28 cutting fabric that will be used to make cotton face masks for patients served by the Turban Project.

The hands-on experience was a follow-up to the football team's effort last school year to raise money to support the organization founded by Kathy Braidich.

Since 2012, Turban Project volunteers have produced more than 35,000 pieces of cotton face masks and headwear, including turbans, cloth that wraps around the head; courage caps, cloth caps that tie at the back of the head; and beanies, cloth or fleece hats; for patients who experience hair loss for medical reasons.

Central Crossing football coach Trevor White was looking for a cause his team could support in which 100% of donations are used for the cause, said Tanya Tiegler, president of the Touchdown Club.

"When I went online and found out about the Turban Project, I thought what they did was so special and something we'd want to support," she said.

"All of us are affected by cancer one way or another," White said. "We have a number of players on our team who have family members who have been diagnosed with cancer and some who have lost family members to cancer.

"This project is a chance to do something outside of ourselves and a way to build a nonfootball fellowship among our team members," he said.

Last year, the football team raised $700 to support the Turban Project.

"This year, we wanted to do more, to give the players a chance to get more meaning from doing something to help others and that could open up a new area of experience for them," Tiegler said.

Braidich and parent volunteers showed the football players how to cut the fabric.

More than 600 face masks will be made by other Turban Project volunteers from the fabric swatches the players cut and they will be distributed to more than 40 hospitals and cancer-treatment clinics in Ohio and around the nation, Braidich said.

The idea for the Turban Project came to Braidich after she made a turban for a co-worker at the Newark U.S Post Service office in 2012. The co-worker had lost her hair during her treatment for breast cancer, she said.

"It's more about providing dignity for patients," the Frazeysburg resident said. "Losing your hair can be really traumatic for a patient, especially for a woman."

That her one deed has expanded into a worldwide effort "is due to God and to all our volunteers, who I think of as our volunteer angels," Braidich said.

"We exist 100% on donations and 100% on the time and effort of our volunteer angels."

Central Crossing senior captain and quarterback Drew DeYarmon said the fabric-cutting project was a meaningful experience for him and his teammates.

"Football is more than just football. We're a family, and it's important for us to come together for a team effort like this," he said. "It makes you feel good to know you're doing something that's going to help others.

"It's different from just raising money, like we did last year," DeYarmon said. "It feels a lot more relevant and personal to know you're helping to make something tangible, that someone out there is going to be using as they go through a difficult time."

More information about the Turban Project, including how to make a donation, is available at turbanproject.com and at facebook.com/turbanproject.

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