Mending Souls is a Tucson non-profit that made headlines during the pandemic for sewing thousands of masks for first responders.

But the 100 percent volunteer-based group makes much more than that, helping people facing a series of medical or financial challenges.

On Saturday, the group unveiled its new Charity Factory and free Sewing Academy inside the Bringing Out the Best thrift shop in Midtown near Speedway and Craycroft.

Oneida Nation elder and Vietnam veteran Daniel King giving the space a native blessing. He wore a special veteran sash sewn by these volunteers.

Coming from the people, it means more, he told KGUN. It means a lot. It means Im healing Better than I felt 50 years ago when I came home, but yet better than I did in the last 20-30 years.

Hundreds of volunteers have now cut and sewn more than a quarter million items in total since 2016.

Those items range from baby toys and clothes, chemo caps, scarves, dignity garments, toys and more.

Mending Souls sews them to cover or comfort people or animals in need.

I think the favorite thing for our dogs is a blanket, said Paula Rivadeneira of Old Souls Animal Rescue & Retirement Home. And while we are a cage free rescue, we do put blankets in some cages just because they love to kinda huddle down in there.

Mending Souls new place provides the space to store and organize it all.

We used to operate out of our own homes, said co-founder Rose Skelly, who explained the group did move into another Midtown building but outgrew it.

We are very very blessed to be in this awesome building We can have all our machines set up here in a really decent-sized room.

The hope is production will now ramp up even more, and more Tucsonans will take up sewing. Volunteers plan to teach sewing to people looking to learn.

Back in 2016, it was Skellys classes that inspired co-founder and president Michelle Don Carlos.

She just has this love of life. She came up with the idea of sewing for other people, said Skelly. I find that sew-ers are very giving people. They love sewing and giving things away.

Mending Souls supports more than 130 local agencies and non-profits.