AMBLER — Jackets n’ Things owner Barbara Ruggiero is using her gifted sewing abilities to make more than 300 masks for people in need during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I have goods. I have talent,” Ruggiero said. “So the only thing I’m running short on right now is elastic, but I still have some, and I see the demand, and I’d like to give back to the community.”
The 71-year-old entrepreneur, who resides in Towamencin, primarily stocks sports merchandise and wardrobe items for communion season at the shop on 42 E. Butler Ave. in Ambler. Ruggiero also said that she does alterations.
At the direction of Gov. Tom Wolf, nonessential businesses closed earlier this month to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus as cases climb throughout the state, nation and world.
“I have no work because I was forced to shut down my business,” she said.
After finishing up any outstanding items, Ruggiero said this became the perfect opportunity to do her part to keep her fellow community members safe.
She began making masks on March 24.
Ruggiero said she uses “two ply” cotton or a type of blend fabric to ensure that “it’s sturdy.” She added that the masks take about 10 minutes to make.
While it’s unlikely the masks could be used on the surgical floor of a hospital, they’d be useful for people in working in essential establishments such as banks or grocery stores, she said.
“I actually just got a call from somebody thinking maybe I have a factory,” Ruggiero said. “I’m a one-person factory here.”
Ruggerio said she’d like to continue making masks for people until her supply of elastic runs out. She added she hasn’t been able to find any from her suppliers or other stores, but would welcome any donated materials.
Ruggiero said she sent masks overseas to her sister who lives in Italy “because they’re in big trouble there.” Locally, Ruggiero said she’s given free masks to several organizations including the Ambler Police Department and McCaffrey’s Food Market in Blue Bell.
For more information about Jackets n’ Things, visit the store’s Facebook page.
While the times may be difficult for small business owners like Ruggiero, she said she hopes the community will show their support by purchasing items from brick and mortar stores in many of Montgomery County’s municipalities once establishments get the all clear to reopen.
“So 'shop small',” she said. “That’s what we would like to put out there.”