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Sue Rhodes resides in Palmyra and has been sewing slews of masks for her friends, family and countless members of the community to protect against COVID-19. 

As a retired labor and delivery RN, she loves to spend the bulk of her time sewing. Rhodes is married and has three daughters, two of whom are RN’s and has six grandchildren. She and her friend additionally have a small business that makes and sells “The Beppy”, which is a hands-free neck and shoulder wrap that can be heated up in the microwave. Their business Facebook page is called ‘Susie Home Make It’.

Many of Rhodes’ friends and family reached out and asked if she had any plans to make masks when COVID-19 first hit the nation hard in March. This prompted her to decide to put sewing for her business aside and to start searching her basement for any and all-cotton fabric. Sue calls herself a “fabric-holic” because she has quite a bit of fabric stored away.

“The biggest issue, in the beginning, was finding elastic,” Rhodes said. “After ordering some online, I did find a small fabric store in Mifflinburg that had a roll of 100 yards, so I was good until my online order came three weeks later.”

Rhodes sews all of the masks in her home at a designated sewing area that consists of four machines and a cutting table.

Rhodes is one of the many Lebanon Countians who have heeded the call for additional masks, such as the Women Working Behind the Scenes who distributed thousands of masks locally earlier this summer.

Read More: Senator Casey recognizes mask-sewing efforts of Lebanon County women

Now local organizations are teaming up to make sure that local schools have plenty of masks to start the school year, with individuals like Sue playing a key role in that effort.

Read More: United Way, WellSpan lead initiative to prepare county school districts for mask shortage

Pictured above: masks made by Sue with various fabric patterns.

Instead of accepting payment for the masks, Rhodes asks that those who place an order of masks make a donation to the food bank or the Caring Cupboard in Palmyra if they’re able.

“My husband and I are lucky to be retired and able to pay our bills and put food on the table. My heart goes out to those who have lost their jobs and have to depend on the food bank to feed their family. I figured this was a small way I could help my community.”  

Rhodes believes that she has made well over 500 masks so far in the three different sizes she offers. The sizes are small child, large child and adult. For the child sizes, a piece of elastic is pinned on each side. 

“If you open the mask and have the child hold it up on their face, you can pinch the ends of the elastic behind their ears, mark each piece and tie it at the mark. That way, it’s not a one size fit all kind of mask but fits each child individually. So far I’ve had more requests for adult sizes.” 

In addition to the masks, Rhodes has made headbands with attached buttons and donated them to the hospitals where her daughters work and to the labor and delivery unit she worked in. The headbands are made of cotton with elastic in the back.  

“The buttons are sewn on a little higher than your ears, in order to wrap the elastic over the buttons instead of your ears.”

The most rewarding aspect of the process for Rhodes has been that she is told by many people that her masks are the most comfortable ones they have worn.

“The challenging part was initially trying to get enough masks made for the requests I had. That has slowed down, and now I’m able to have a bit of inventory to offer when someone asks for one.”  

Rhodes plans to continue making masks for as long as there is a need for them within the community. To contact Rhodes to place an order of masks, send her a text or call at 717-439-0359.

Read all of LebTown’s COVID-19 coverage here.

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