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Mother and daughter duo make hundreds of face masks a day for community

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

With just one sewing machine shared between two pairs of hands, Aubrey Sowers and Roxanne Miller have been cutting and sewing fabric to make a little over 2,000 face masks in just a few weeks.

"The idea was to help in any way that we could, and this was a way we continue to help those front line workers who are out there every day," Miller said. 

Sowers, 36, and her mother Miller, 61, both of Chambersburg, began making face masks on March 21 after seeing numerous social media posts from friends in the health care industry who shared concerns about the lack of available face masks. 

Mother and daughter pair Aubrey Sowers and Roxanne Miller have made about 2,000 face masks for the community.

Rising demand, panic buying, hoarding and misuse of personal protective equipment — such as N95 respirators, which filter out about 95% of airborne particles — are putting people at risk from the coronavirus and other infectious diseases, the World Health Organization said in early March.

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Because of these shortages, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines allowing health care professionals to use surgical masks, scarves and bandannas as acceptable alternatives.

"When we finished our first batch of masks, we put a post on Facebook out to our friends in health care," Sowers said. "The response to it was overwhelming."

Overnight, the pair received hundreds of messages from individuals both requesting masks and asking how they can donate supplies. 

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Made out of 100% cotton with two layers, the face masks have no filters or pocket and are a "simple protective mask," Miller said. 

"It's not a surgical mask, but it's better than nothing," she said.

With prior experience in sewing and crafting, the pair quickly learned how to make masks. Though at first Sowers and Miller could only make 50 masks a day, their skills have sharpened and they now can make more than three times that number.

Since the beginning, Sowers and Miller have shipped face masks to Kentucky, Florida and Oregon, among others. They've also made masks for two nursing homes, Menno Haven and Quincy Village, both in Franklin County.

Though Sowers and Miller donated masks in the beginning, the demand for orders required more resources the pair couldn't supply. They now charge $5 per face mask to help cover costs of materials. 

Mother and daughter pair Aubrey Sowers and Roxanne Miller have made about 2,000 face masks for the community.

They complete 150 to 250 orders each day.

Among the colorful fabrics decorating the masks, a small heart can be found on each one.

"We just want the people wearing them to know we're thinking about them and praying for their heath and safety," Sowers said.

People who are interested in ordering a mask from the mother and daughter pair can reach out to Sowers on Facebook to place an order.

"There have been days where we've been close to tears because we're tired, and days where we're close to tears because of the thank-you notes we're receiving," Miller said. "We're just using our talents as we can to help as many people as possible."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.