BY FRANK WILKES LESNEFSKY
Even Elves on the Shelf are taking precautions this year — with the help of some local mask makers.
Aided by her mother and aunt, Patty Lee Hack of Patty Lee’s Marvelous Maskers estimated she’s made at least 10,000 masks since the pandemic began, donating more than 5,000. Now, the trio are keeping Santa’s helpers safe with their own tiny masks.
Elf on the Shelf is a Christmas tradition where small elves appear in different locations throughout children’s homes during the holidays and report back to Santa whether the children are naughty or nice.
As a former health care worker of about 14 years, Hack, of Scranton, started Patty Lee’s Marvelous Maskers in March to make masks for health care workers who were running low on personal protective equipment. Her mom, Helen Hack, and her aunt, Delores Cook, are tailors, so the three got together and watched a video on how to make masks. Patty Lee Hack said she started donating the masks to her friends who work in health care before donating to local hospitals.
She’s since donated masks to children and their families, schools and head starts, among others. Recently, pediatric offices have reached out to her as well, she said.
“We donate to anybody that needs a mask,” she said.
For those who can afford masks, she charges $3 a mask or eight for $20 for women’s and children’s masks; men’s masks are $4 each or six for $20, Patty Lee Hack said. Elf masks are four for $5.
“If they can’t afford it, that’s OK,” she said. “We’re going to donate it to you, or you can give me $2 and I’ll give you masks for your family. Whatever you can give, that’s fine. We just want to make sure that everybody has a mask.”
They started making masks for dolls to help children feel more comfortable wearing masks, especially those with health conditions that required frequent trips to the doctor’s office, Patty Lee Hack said. The trio also makes masks for teddy bears.
“If they can bring their favorite doll with them and that doll has that mask on too, their best friend is with them,” she said. “They feel so much better.”
Children will often act out things that are troubling them or things they’re trying to figure out as they play, said Carole Slotterback, a psychology professor at the University of Scranton with a Ph.D. in developmental psychology.“Having masks for the dolls is just a perfect tool for them to be able to just to figure things out, figure out how they feel about it and to see how the adults around them respond to things,” she said. “I think it’s a wonderful thing that these folks are doing.”
Patty Lee’s Marvelous Maskers got the idea for Elf on the Shelf masks when Diane Wasp, a third-grade teacher at the Mid Valley School District, inquired about the miniature face coverings. Wasp said she had ordered masks from them over the summer and recently bought more.
After Wasp’s request, Patty Lee Hack and her aunt grabbed some fabric, sat down and figured out how to make masks for elves. So far, they’ve made about 500, and the orders haven’t stopped, she said. Like the masks for children, the elves’ masks also are two layers of fabric, she said.
With three kids of her own who have an Elf on the Shelf that appears in their house, as well as a classroom elf, Wasp wanted to get masks for the elves.
She expects her classroom elf, Buzzer, to show up shortly after Thanksgiving.
“I think that he’ll be coming back, and I think that he will be hanging out with the mask,” Wasp said.
To contact Patty Lee’s Marvelous Maskers, visit facebook.com/Patty-Lees-Marvelous-Maskers-109901740740337.
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