Jacksonville woman who sews 300 masks a day and gives them away needs your help

A Mandarin woman is making sure people are safe throughout Northeast Florida

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Mandarin woman is doing her part to make sure people throughout Northeast Florida are safe during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I have sewn all my life,” said Judy Parnitzke. “My grandmother taught me how to sew when I was 10.”

Parnitzke is a seamstress and pattern maker. The only time she stopped sewing was when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

“I had no symptoms and I was almost stage four,” Parnitzke said. “They pretty much said I wasn’t going to make it.”

But she had a plan.

“I will sew my way through the treatment,” she said. “The chemo was so bad and I woke up one day and I couldn’t remember how to thread the machine.”

Worn and torn, Parnitzke patched herself back together, stronger than ever.

“My immune system is compromised, so my husband said at the beginning of March, you have to make a mask for yourself,” she said.

So on March 1, Judy started sewing and didn’t stop.

“That day I had 300 masks. We have been doing 300 masks every day since and that has been about a month ago. And at this point, we have done 6000,” she said.

She’s done it with the help of her sewing squad of friends.

“I can’t do anything on my own,” she said. “You know, we can all do something, but together we’re amazing."

The masks go to hospitals and to people throughout Northeast Florida.

“When I sit in my sewing room, and sometimes somebody walks by and when they get out of their car, it’s like I have given them a Band-Aid. It’s a little bit of relief from anxiety,” she said.

The free masks sit in a basket on Judy’s front stoop.

“I put hepa (filters) in all of them, and there’s a pocket so you take the hepa out and throw the mask in the washing machine,” she said.

Judy said she’s in need of elastic. If you’d like to donate or to get a mask from Judy, send an email to thethomasdesigngroup@gmail.com.

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