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Top left: Allison, Laura and Heather Ann. Bottom right: Allison and her mother hard at work.

Berlin High School senior and bronze medalist in discus at the New York State Division II Championship in 2019, Allison Ryder, has been putting another talent of hers to work to help others.

Like many of us, Allison is at home, not knowing when life will go back to what it was, due to coronavirus precautions. She is currently taking her senior year classes remotely and is unable to train with her teammates and continue her outstanding accomplishment as Berlin’s current record holder for discus in Track and Field and the 400 medley relay record with the swim team.

These days, however, Allison is working as a team with her mother, Heather Ann Ryder, and older sister, Laura.

When Allison is not busy with her school work she is helping her mother sew, and to date they have sewn over 300 masks and about 50 pieces of headwear to use with N95 respirator masks for nursing home and daycare providers, the Lowell Humane society and the Townsend, MA school bus drivers. Each mask and piece of headwear can take Heather Ann, a seamstress for 35 years, an hour to make.

Allison has been sewing since her early teens and was taught her sewing skills at school by her former teacher, Mrs. Diane Mosher. Home Economics class during high school was where Heather Ann learned to sew.

Heather Ann, who is currently furloughed due to the pandemic, spends eight hours a day sewing masks and surgical covers. She and Allison have been sewing surgical and N95 covers since February and have been making surgical caps and bouffants since January.

This work started back in December of 2019 when Laura, who works at Albany Medical Center in the Pediatrics Emergency Room unit, asked her mother to make her custom mask covers, headwear and other medical accessories for work.

The Ryders have donated 90 percent of the masks, only selling enough to cover the cost of supplies and electricity. Clients who live locally are able to pick up orders on the Ryder’s front porch or can have them delivered by mail. Also, Laura brings the orders with her to Albany Medical Center and distributes them there.

The Ryders have shared information on how to make masks and headwear on Heather Ann’s Facebook page.

“I have also shared information on materials that have been hard to find, like elastics,” said Heather Ann.

“In times like these it shows the importance of learning sewing and other domestic skills that we just take for granted, like cooking.”

Allison’s Advanced Placement Art teacher, Ms. Shannon DeCelle, was so excited by her student’s skill, talent and societal awareness that she is working with Allison to incorporate her abilities into an independent study.