Silver lining

Fishtown resident makes face masks in midst of COVID-19 crisis supply shortage.

Helping hand: Rebecca Harter is making face masks to donate to those who need them most as supplies run short during the COVID-19 pandemic. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

After seeing reports of shortages in supplies for medical field workers fighting on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, Rebecca Harter, 39, decided to put her downtime to good use.

So far, the Fishtown resident has sewn 20 fabric face masks and plans to continue to make more as long as the demand remains.

After joining the Facebook group, Sew Face Masks Philadelphia #AbolishCOVID, Harter reached out to PAWS after seeing a post about the staff needing them.

Her first batch will go to the Philly-based nonprofit and Harter is waiting to hear back from a staff member at Cooper University Hospital.

The stay-at-home mom who previously operated a furniture business learned to sew about a year ago after taking a class at Tacony LAB Community Art Center, 6918 Torresdale Ave., and watching some YouTube tutorial videos.

“I have a 5-year-old daughter, and I had a sewing machine and I wanted to make her clothes to wear, so I decided to learn,” Harter said.

What started with a simple skirt for her daughter has blossomed into Beck’s Boutique, with Harter taking custom orders through word-of-mouth referrals and Instagram.

“Other people would see her skirts and say how cute they were, and it really took off from there,” she said.

Initially, Harter thought about making the face masks and selling them, but decided to scrap the profit aspect and use leftover fabric from orders “and do a good thing and get involved.”

“I just want to help out any way I can and put anyone’s fears at ease,” she said. “I’m not saving lives, but I’m doing what I can to help.”

Harter is sourcing more elastic after using what she had remaining for her first batch  – she secured some from a donation through the Facebook group – and plans to experiment with a tie-style face mask, too.

“I’m only one person and I can only do so much, but if you have a group of people doing something, you can make a difference,” she said. ••


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