MERRIMAC — A Pentucket Regional Middle School seventh-grader is about to celebrate her first anniversary learning valuable lessons while making face masks to help first responders and donating the proceeds to help furry friends.

Maddy Grimes has always shared her love of sewing with her grandmother, Rose Cooke.

"Mimi started me off when I was 8. It's sort of clicked and I just love sewing," Maddy said of her grandmother.

The 12-year-old and her grandmother begin making protective face masks with the help of Maddy's mother Danielle Grimes not long after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. in mid-March.

"We heard about a shortage of masks on the news and on social media," Maddy said. "We just wanted to help out, anyway that we could. My mom found a pattern on Facebook so I was making those. My Mimi was making them at her house as well."

Maddy and her family soon became one of those pioneering clans who were downloading patterns from the internet while heading back and forth to fabric stores and their sewing machines last spring.

Maddy had started off making rectangular masks but soon moved on to a pattern that fits more to a person's nose and mouth.

"These masks follow the shape of your nose line and cheek so that they fit," Danielle Grimes said. "So, if people are wearing glasses, they don't fog up as much."

Maddy donated one of her first large batches of masks to Lawrence General Hospital and the Lazarus House.

While the Grimes family had initially been making their masks for area first responders, over the past year, the demand has come from as far away as Arizona and New Jersey. Maddy went from initial runs of 15 to 20 masks to 40 to 60 now, sometimes with help from members of her Girl Scout troop.

"She has picked up quite a bit," Grimes said. "I think she is really earning somewhat of a business degree. She has to track her materials, get the word out and spread the word so she is learning how to market through her Facebook page. She has to manage her supplies and make sure that she has everything to fill what she is trying to fill. She's also learning how to use Excel and all of the spreadsheets and I honestly think she has learned more from this than maybe other places."

Maddy's masks have gone well beyond her original pattern and design and now include sports teams and animals, as well as holiday related masks for Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day.

"The Valentine's Day masks might be my favorite," Maddy said. "I like the hearts."

Maddy has set up a charity business model on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sunnydazecrafting where she offers her masks for $6, plus shipping. She said that all the money earned goes toward supplies and the rest is donated to the MSPCA.

"People can send me a message on my Facebook page," Maddy said. "I'll take the order there and then I'll either send it to you or deliver it"

Maddy said she really enjoys helping other people.

"It makes me feel really good," she said. "It has always been important to give back in my family and that has been our thing."

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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