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Phoenix woman sets up massive mask-making operation in her front yard

“It's just a grassroots movement, an army of sewers,” explains Kristi Hoven.

PHOENIX — If you're walking down 2nd Ave. near Roosevelt St. in downtown Phoenix, it’s hard to miss Kristi Hoven’s operation.

"I thought setting up outside would be a good way to recruit help," she explains.

Hoven is literally set up in her front yard, sewing masks and collecting supplies.  And the hum of her sewing machine may as well be a warm drum.

“It's just a grassroots movement, an army of sewers,” she says.

She says this all started when one of her nurse friends asked her to sew some masks. When she went to the craft store to pick up supplies, she ran into other healthcare workers buying supplies of their own.  She realized there was a big need.

"I can help not only my friend but other people."

Thus, Mask Phoenix! was born. Hoven has been using the Facebook group to coordinate hundreds of volunteers that make up the fighting fabric.

"I'm not working right now," says Gene Lauze. "This is a perfect way to keep my craft going."

12 News caught up with Lauze as he was dropping off about 100 freshly sewn masks at Hoven's front yard drop site. Hoven says she's just one branch of the growing operation and it's hard to keep track of how many masks they've donated to front line workers.

"I would say probably thousands," Hoven guesses. "They're committed to helping us. If we can do this in return for them, they're just extremely, extremely thankful."

But the masks have found their way to more than just healthcare workers.

RELATED: CDC changes guidelines on wearing face coverings, here's what you need to know

Dr. Leona Roberts is a breast cancer survivor.

"However, recently I found a lump," she explains in an interview with 12 News.

A lump is a scare for any survivor, and it's even scarier to have to go to a hospital right now to get it checked out. But a custom mask from Hoven, is just the security blanket Roberts needs.

"I felt comfortable," she says after wearing it to her appointment to check out the lump. "I felt safe."

The smile you can see in her eyes, as the mask covers her mouth, is a sign of the little victories that stitch together success.

"It is a lifesaver. It has been a blessing to me as a cancer survivor."

Coupled with the good news that this latest lump was not cancer.

"I feel so blessed," Roberts says.

As for Hoven, she says they have a surplus of materials, but are looking for more volunteers to help cut and sew. You can head to the Mask Phoenix! Facebook group to see how you can help.

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