“Sew” Amazing: Residents Step Up to Keep Orange County Covered
The COVID-19 pandemic has ignited the selflessness of local residents, who have taken the initiative as a call to action to help our community manage the crisis. One important need being addressed is the shortage of cloth masks, which help protect those on the front lines of the pandemic. Thanks to local residents and business owners, cloth mask donations are being made to hospitals, first responders, Orange County Government and other critical service providers.
“I’ve been sewing my whole life, so when my daughter Kasey expressed concern she would sometimes be coming into contact with a lot of people as part of her job with Orange County Communications and her role assisting Emergency Management, I found a few online tutorials and went to work,” said Jennifer Brinkley.
One thing led to another, and Brinkley started making masks for friends, family and neighbors, as well as 200 for Orange County Government employees. Sifting through her large stash of fabric, she began creating designer options, including Florida State University masks for Kasey, Mayor Jerry L. Demings and other FSU alumni. She received a hand-written note from Mayor Demings, who thanked her not only for his mask but also for all her donations.
“I’ll never look at a face mask the same way,” said Brinkley, who is committed to keep going until the masks are no longer needed. “I’ll always be reminded of this, but I hope we learn from it and are more prepared in the future.”
Joseph Truong, a Vietnamese-American who lives in Orlando, has donated more than 1,000 cloth masks across the County. Truong, who is disabled and works part-time as a realtor, is determined to give back to the doctors and nurses who helped him when he was sick, as well as to the country that has given him so much.
“I rallied the Vietnamese community, came up with a flier and put it on Facebook,” he explained. “We use the donated money to buy material to make the masks and also purchase them directly from Vietnam. There’s heavy air pollution there, so people always wear masks and know how to make them.”
Truong is glad to do his part and admits teaching his kids ways to give back is personally very rewarding for him. His plan is to keep going until the crisis is behind the community.
To date, Orange County has received 6,400 home-made cloth donations from individuals, local businesses and organizations including Don Julio’s Mexican Restaurant, Orlando Chinese Professionals Association, Guang Ming Temple and the Vietnamese Community of Central Florida; as well as online groups Orlando Face Mask Strong and One Million Mask Challenge.
“Throughout this crisis and others, our community has proven we’re at our best when we work together,” said Chief Lauraleigh Avery, Orange County’s Acting Emergency Manager. “We’re overwhelmed with gratitude for the residents and organizations making these masks. As we continue with our emergency operations response efforts, they’re helping protect our employees.”
If you have any donations you would like routed, please email ESF15@ocfl.net.
Photo Caption: Joseph Truong (middle) donates cloth masks to Orange County workers.