Groups come together to create, donate masks during pandemic

Chamber of Commerce, hospitals, churches, Challenge Enterprises among those behind effort

By Wesley LeBlanc wesley@opcfla.com
Posted 4/29/20

CLAY COUNTY – More than 60 volunteers, including members from the Chamber of Commerce members, hospital workers and church patrons are using their time to get facemasks to those who need …

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Groups come together to create, donate masks during pandemic

Chamber of Commerce, hospitals, churches, Challenge Enterprises among those behind effort

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – More than 60 volunteers, including members from the Chamber of Commerce members, hospital workers and church patrons are using their time to get facemasks to those who need them.

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, face masks have been in need. Their supply has been scarce and online marketplaces are starting to lose affordable stock of the accessory.

The Clay County Chamber of Commerce asks member Dana Heisler and Ascension St. Vincent’s Clay County Hospital physician liaison Lori Davis to create a community-wide effort take place to make additional face masks.

“I immediately started reaching out to church pastors to see if their volunteer teams would help,” Heisler said. “Now, we’ve got Challenge Enterprises involved, churches, Ridgeview High School ROTC members and others. We have over 60 volunteers helping make and deliver masks to St. Vincent’s.”

Since Orange Park Medical Center didn’t need a special material used in the masks called polypropylene, it donated it to the Chamber’s effort. This material is being used to make masks going to St. Vincent’s. Davis said the hospital isn’t necessarily in need of the face masks, but the hospital said it’s comforted to know they will be available if needed.

Heisler and other volunteers delivered 180 masks to St. Vincent’s on April 22 and she said it’s the first of many donations around the county.

“Everyone is doing a phenomenal job and the quality of these masks is amazing,” Heisler said.

The quality of the masks is so amazing that they’re actually classified as N96 masks rather than the usual N95 masks, meaning they provide even more protection.

Heisler and Davis are working with volunteers from places like Christ’s Church on Fleming Island to provide contactless delivery of supplies and contactless pick up of masks. Davis has been dropping off supplies for masks to would-be volunteers. This gives them a chance to try their hand at making the masks. Assuming the mask is of quality, Davis gives them more supplies and they continue making masks.

“It’s inspirational and moving to see everyone working together for something like this,” Davis said.

Advent Lutheran Church volunteer Wilma Naylor has been making masks with fellow volunteers and she said it’s been great.

“You feel like you’re helping and it’s been a pleasure to be able to help,” Naylor said. “It’s uplifting to see everyone in the county coming together to help this cause.”

Heisler said the goal is to make 4,000 masks, but there is enough supplies to make 15,000.

“We’re not selling these or making money,” Heisler said. “These are being donated. No matter what walk of life our volunteers are from, we’re all in this to help the community. It’s about the power and desire to do what we can with what we can.”

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