At first, the goal was to sew 13,000 masks for health providers and patients at Lancaster Health Center to protect against COVID-19.
Now, Sylvan Stoltzfus and Phil Lapp are working with Amish communities and English folks to increase production to provide churches, hospitals, prisons and retirement communities in Lancaster County and beyond with masks.
“We’re ramping things up,” Phil Lapp, co-founder of tour guide company LoKal Experiences, said. “We’re reaching numbers we never thought were possible.”
About 2,500 masks are being collected daily at Bird-in-Hand Fabric, which is owned by Stoltzfus and his wife, but Stoltzfus and Lapp are hoping to at least double that daily total.
Amish families are working together to produce masks, Stoltzfus said. Amish men who have lost their jobs during the stay-at-home order and have little sewing skills are finding ways to help out, Stoltzfus said.
It’s not just Amish folks working to make the masks, Stoltzfus said. People from all over the county are spending their free time sewing thousands of masks.
On April 1, Bird-in-Hand Fabric received a letter from Gov. Tom Wolf’s office stating that the business could continue operations and “plays a critical role in the manufacture and supply of goods and services necessary to sustain life.”
Mask-making kits can be picked up at Bird-in-Hand Fabrics or delivered, Stoltzfus said.
Over 500 kits were dropped off at homes across the county on April 6, Stoltzfus said. Each kit contains materials to sew 50 masks.
Lapp is looking to register the effort as a nonprofit organization called “Lancaster Masks” in order to receive donations for the production of the masks due to interest from local businesses to help support the effort.
Blakinger Thomas, P.C., a local law firm, is filing for the nonprofit out of a donation, Lapp said.
While the goal of 13,000 masks for Lancaster Health Center is still in the works, production for the center has been put on a brief hold as masks are made for other organizations, Lapp said. A couple thousand masks have already been donated to the center, Lapp said.
This week, masks are being produced for WellSpan Health and Alfred I duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware, Lapp said.
Those looking to volunteer or organizations looking for mask donations can call 717-823-0952 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.