They may attend different Diocesan schools, but Annie Reilly and Julia Mazur have something in common, they are sewing hope in their community. Reilly, a sixth grade student at Saint Clare/Saint Paul School in Scranton and Mazur, a junior at Holy Cross High School in Dunmore, have each spent the last several weeks making masks for family, friends and members of the community amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“I decided to make masks the Sunday after getting out of school,” Reilly said. After the 12-year-old’s mother saw a pattern on Facebook, Reilly’s instincts kicked in. “I took a sewing class since I was in second grade but I stopped when I was in fourth grade,” Reilly joked.
“Some people might call it frustrating but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy.”
To date, Reilly has created roughly 50 masks. She typically makes five or six a day, in between balancing regular school assignments.
“I was a little slow at first because I forgot how to turn on corners but then I watched a video and I remembered how to do it. It’s kind of easy once you know. You kind of hop right back into it,” Reilly added. Any money that Reilly makes from sewing and selling her masks is being donated to Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen in Scranton.
“Our family has always been involved with Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen. We always do a ‘Day of Service’ there in honor of my aunt. When she (Annie) saw all these people are hungry and without food, she wanted to give back and that is where she wanted to donate to,” mother Alyson Reilly said. In a time of such uncertainty, Annie Reilly said she simply wants to spread a little bit of kindness.
“I’m hoping that when we spread this kindness, it will filter and more people will start doing more acts of kindness to help us get through this time,” she added. Julia Mazur, 17, started her mask-making effort for similar reasons.
“I started because my grandmother has a compromised immune system,” Mazur said. While her first requests for masks came from family and friends, Mazur said associates of her mother who work in a local nursing home and prison quickly followed. “It makes me feel great to know the places that couldn’t get them are being able to get them and use them,” Mazur said.
“I’m doing my best to do something that protects people and keeps them safe.” To date, Mazur has already made more than 350 masks. She averages 20 per day. “It’s crazy at this point,” Mazur joked. “I had never made one before. I actually saw a Facebook post on how to make one and I just went off of that. It was based on the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines.” The Holy Cross student has now enlisted her mother to help her cut fabric. She had some of the material already around the house but other people are now donating it to her.
Normally, Mazur wouldn’t have a lot of free time on her hands to make masks. But since she works for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, who have had games postponed, she has more time to fulfill requests. “I can’t go to work right now. This is another thing to do to keep me busy!” Mazur added.