No mask? No problem. Midstate women make — and donate — nearly 8,000 masks and counting

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Safe to say, most people have probably never made a mask by hand. Now imaging making nearly 8,000 of them.

Della Kreiser and Jeanie Hershey don’t have to imagine that. They’ve done it — and they’re not about to stop.

Kreiser says it was her sister Hershey’s idea, but Hershey disagrees — sort of.

“It wasn’t my idea,” she said. “It was a necessity because I needed to go to doctor’s appointments.”

So Kreiser took out her sewing machine and made a mask for her sister. Then her husband wanted one. Then he wanted 600 more.

Next, Hershey decided it was her turn to help, and before long, they had set up an assembly line with a division of labor: Kreiser sews the tops onto the fabric. Hershey assembles them. Kreiser sews the sides. Hershey reorients the masks and attaches the ear ties. Kreiser finishes sewing, and then Hershey irons them — leaving them nicely pressed while also, Kreiser explained, killing any germs with the steam.

ABC27 was at Hershey’s home when the women made their 7,900th mask.

Their masks have ended up in all kinds of hands. “This gentleman,” Kreiser said, pointing to a photo on her phone, “needed one that he could put on by himself because he only had one arm.” He’s a fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr., the stock car racing driver, so they made him an Earnhardt-themed mask.

Then there were the masks for 100 National Guardsmen in training. Those masks had to be all black. Yes, just because the “customers” don’t pay doesn’t mean they don’t have standards.

Kreiser made a mask for her great-nephew, featuring gingerbread men, which he didn’t want to take off even when it was time to eat — yes, a mask so special you have to convince a kid to take it off, rather than to put it on in the first place.

Kreiser and Hershey said their mask-making isn’t a political statement. Heck, they don’t even like wearing masks. But they know they must, and they want everyone else to be able to do so as comfortably as possible.

ABC27 first learned about the sisters when they called the newsroom, offering masks for station staff. Asked if they would like to be profiled, Kreiser initially declined. They weren’t looking for any publicity, she said. They were just glad they had found a way to help friends, family and strangers through the pandemic.

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