Merrimac girl, mother sew masks for those in need

Courtesy photoPaige Souliotis of Merrimac is using the materials and resources she has from her business, Scrunchie Nation, to make masks for hospitals and businesses in need.

MERRIMAC — A local girl has put her hair scrunchie business on hold and completely dedicated her resources and time to making face masks for hospitals, restaurants and anyone in need.

When 10-year-old Paige Souliotis broke her foot last fall, she had to take a break from Irish dancing. So without a hobby, Paige was looking for another activity to occupy her time. She picked up sewing and launched her business, Scrunchie Nation.

As part of her mission, Paige vowed to donate a portion of her sales to nonprofits. Most recently, she sold hair scrunchies with a koala pattern and raised just under $400 for organizations working to help Australia recover from bushfires. She’s also aided local organizations such as The Kindness Coalition of Massachusetts, which organizes events to support at-risk members of the community.

So when Paige’s mother, Julie Souliotis, heard about the shortage of masks, she suggested her daughter take action. After all, they already had plenty of fabric and elastic to use for the project.

Since starting the project about three weeks ago, Paige and her mother have made almost 200 masks. Each masks takes about five minutes to make and requires an 8-inch-by-14-inch piece of fabric folded in half. Souliotis irons the pleats, to protect her daughter from any burns, and then Paige sews in the pleats and the elastic. 

The pair said they will donate face masks to anyone who requests them. So far, the pair has sent masks to Massachusetts General Hospital, Beverly Hospital, Tufts Medical Center, Norwood Hospital, Holy Family Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, VA Medical Center in West Roxbury and North Shore Medical Center.

In addition to medical facilities, they have sent their creations to the Bedford Fire Department in New Hampshire and a handful of restaurants. Now, they are working on a request from a brewery in Rhode Island that is donating food to first responders.

Souliotis said her daughter is “pretty good with a sewing machine,” and the project is providing them both with a sense of fulfillment. 

Paige said sewing is “fun.” It was a productive distraction when she was recovering from her foot injury and now, it’s a way to keep busy while self-isolating.

“I’ll just go sit at the sewing machine and sew stuff, either scrunchies or any other project I’m working on,” she said.

Souliotis pointed out the benefits of the project.

“It’s just so important for kids these days,” she said. “They’ve never been through anything like this, and neither have we. I think it’s just very important for them to get involved and do something that helps them feel like they have a little bit of control.”

Paige said her mother deserves just as much credit for the project.

“I also want to thank my mom because she does a lot of the work, too,” she said.

To learn more about Paige’s business or to request a mask, go to https://www.facebook.com/scrunchienation2019.

Staff reporter Heather Alterisio can be reached via email at halterisio@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3149. Follow her on Twitter @HeathAlt.

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