Amy Sanchez, right, delivers handmade face masks Thursday afternoon to Trinity Jubilee Center Executive Director Erin Reed in Lewiston. “We just started requiring them and this is just great,” Reed said. “We can put them in with their meals and supplies.” Trinity provides meals, groceries, shelter and other supplies and services to help people overcome hunger and homelessness. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — What started with a couple of handmade face masks for herself and her son less than a year go has turned into production of roughly 2,000 in Amy Sanchez’s kitchen.

“When I first started making the masks, I would carry them around in my purse,” she said. “Hey, you need a mask? Here you go. Have one.” 

She handed them out to men at the St. Martin de Porres shelter on Bartlett Street where she was a volunteer cook. Then Healthy Neighborhoods asked if she would provide some to children returning to school.

“So, I said, OK, fine, and I made 400 kids masks in two weeks and I just about killed myself,” she said with a laugh. “That was a lot.” 

In December, Healthy Neighborhoods awarded Sanchez a $1,500 grant to help pay for fabric and other materials. 

“My goal was to make at least 750 masks,” Sanchez said, “so with that grant I bought about 100 yards of fabric.” 

With those roughly 400 masks manufactured, packaged up and delivered, Sanchez’s totals went up further. 

“This brings me up to about 2,000 masks,” she said. 

This week, she has been delivering still more to local charities — Trinity Jubilee Center and Kaydenz Kitchen Food Pantry, specifically. And don’t think they’re not appreciative.

“Quality masks are an item that can be challenging to keep on hand,” Kevin Boilard of Kaydenz Kitchen said after accepting delivery, “and this will provide the chance for anyone in need to stop by our organization for a free mask. Kaydenz Kitchen greatly appreciates the time and effort put in to make these masks available to the community.”

And it all started when COVID-19 first began to appear in the community. 

Sanchez’s son, Kelsey, who has asthma and who was visiting from his home in Texas, first broached the idea of having his mother make masks for those who need them. 

“He did a bunch of research and he decided that the best ones were three layers of quilter’s cotton with a pocket so you could put the filter in if you wanted to,” Sanchez said. “And from there, it’s just grown.” 

She makes them to fit the style of the wearer. 

“It doesn’t have to be just a mask,” goes the teaser on her Facebook page, MaskKreations by Amy. “It can be a statement. Custom-made masks for adults and children. Quality, value, and fashionable protection,” the post says. 

How does she do it? Her factory is her kitchen and her equipment includes an old sewing machine. She recently upgraded to a serger model that speeds up the process by cutting fabric while she sews. 

“The very first thing is to find some fabric that I like and which is good quality and that hopefully fits in the budget,” Sanchez said. “And once I find the fabric, hopefully I can find it on clearance or whatever. … I buy bolts at a time, so I have to cut up the bolts in into seven inch squares. And then from there I cut the pattern of the mask and then sew it up.” 

And she’s got one dedicated worker. 

“I have a little girl who lives next door who helps me put the adjusters on and put the masks into bags,” Sanchez said. 

She plans to keep making the face coverings as long as there’s a need, and those who know her say helping others is what she does.

“Amy is really great … does a lot to help out around the community,” Jimi Cutting, house manager at St. Martin’s de Porres,” said. “She cooks often at Saint Martin’s to help us out and she makes masks for us as well. She does a lot of the shopping for us and coordinates with our contact at the Boy Scouts for their grocery delivery to us. Like many of us, she believes in giving back to the community.”


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