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A mask and a prayer for protection during pandemic

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Updated 

John Reichart of St. John Neumann Church in Reston wanted to have a positive impact during the coronavirus pandemic. So, he reached out to the parish with an offer to fund a mask-making project.

Reichart’s idea soon turned into a small business organized by a team of volunteers who, as of May 10, have created 2,000 “Kathie’s Kits,” named for Reichart’s wife of 50 years, who died in 2019 and inspired his donation. Each kit includes one hand-washable cloth mask, instructions and a prayer in English and Spanish, all placed inside a resealable plastic bag. 

Organizers Susan Infeld, Marianne Stana, Jo-Ann Duggan and Patty Kwapniewski are working with a rotating team of about 30 sewing volunteers, two packagers and three drivers who transport kits to the church.

The first kits were made available April 27 on two tables in the narthex, just inside the church’s main doors. Kits are available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and tables are being restocked daily while supplies last. Parishioners are asked to take no more than two kits per family.

The project, dubbed the “Salesian Protection Project,” reflects parishioners’ love of Salesian spirituality and esteem for the parish priests, Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. A timely quote from the saint is also included: "The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day. Either he will shield you from suffering or give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings."

To meet the goal of offering two kits per family, more help with sewing is needed. To volunteer, contact Jo-Ann Duggan, Director of Outreach, at jduggan@saintjn.org. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020