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Doing good—one mask at a time

Long before COVID-19 spread through York, Pa., Mary Anne Gallagher and the other members of the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary put their sewing skills and caring hearts to good use as they made quilts to donate to various local hospitals.

COVID-19, however, has brought quilt sewing to a halt.

“The hospitals are not accepting quilts anymore,” Mary Anne said. “So that’s why we switched to sewing masks.”

The ladies of the women’s auxiliary have taken up needle and thread to help local hospitals that are facing dwindling supplies of personal protective equipment. Amid the shortage, hospitals are eager to receive the homemade masks.

“We supplied York Hospital with over 500 masks so far,” said Mary Anne. “We’ve also given masks to Hanover Hospital, Head Start of York County, and of course, family and friends. We gave about 50 masks to The Salvation Army for the staff and volunteers to use.”

Other sewing groups in the area have joined them in mask-making. Members of Quilts for Kids and the Advent Lutheran Church Quilters are lending a hand. The Women’s Auxiliary hosts an annual Fabric Fair to raise funds, and many local sewers who volunteer to help during that event are also sewing masks.

“I can tell you that the volunteers and the auxiliary members are a fantastic group of women and men,” Mary Anne continued. “There is such camaraderie among this group. I have met some wonderful people and made so many friends. I am very grateful to have them in my life.”

To stay safe, auxiliary members and volunteers are sewing the masks from home. Mary Anne sometimes puts fabric and elastic in a bag on a bench in front of her house so that those who need supplies can pick them up without any contact.

“We are sharing materials,” she said.

For the ladies of the auxiliary, sewing the masks is more than just a substitute for their passion for quilting.

“Everyone who receives our masks are very grateful. It’s a good thing for us to keep busy. We can’t quilt—well, we can but the quilts aren’t going anywhere at this point. Sewing masks is our way of helping the community. It makes us feel good as we help others.”

In times of crisis, we are all reminded that we are connected by the common thread of humanity. The Women’s Auxiliary of The York Salvation Army is sewing that thread with love and hope.

by Eileen Lippman

The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary is a volunteer, educational, and fundraising arm of The Salvation Army. It provides support and services to programs of the Salvation Army by organizing various fundraisers and sponsoring initiatives to enrich the lives of children and families.