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Bryan volunteers work together to sew, distribute medical masks
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Masks for Bryan volunteers Erica Lasseter and Donna Bath.

Victoria Pape is a lieutenant in the B shift North Battalion, riding up as interim battalion chief for Bryan County Emergency Services. Last week she started a Facebook group page called Masks for Bryan. This grassroots effort to sew and distribute medical masks during the COVID-19 outbreak has already attracted hundreds of volunteers. 

In this Q&A, Pape tells us about Masks for Bryan.

Why is this so important to you?

Pape: I work for Bryan County Emergency Services, and after speaking with our EMA Director Summer Patterson, we knew there would be a shortage of masks and protective equipment. They are on backorder with no date in sight of when they will be shipped. This is global -- not just Bryan County, Georgia, or just the United States…it's global!  It’s not going to go away tomorrow and those of us who work in the medical field will need them continually. What could we do to make these things we have last longer? 

What gave you inspiration to do this?

Pape: I have a personal relationship with Christ. My favorite time to pray is heading to work and enroute to calls. Every morning on my way to work, I pray for all nine of my crew members by name; for their safety, for their minds to have clear decision making, and things such as this. It was one morning while I was driving to work I asked what He wanted us to know with COVID-19 going on. How I could make my crew safe. And then, I knew His voice. So this initially started with me sitting down with my mom and telling her what had been laid on my heart.  It was simply finding a way I could make a few masks for my shift. So my mom and I got with a few of our local friends from church that sewed and it started.

How does this all work? 

 Pape: I started the Facebook page to initially see if I could receive donations of fabric to start sewing. Within three days there were over 600 people. People asked to cut, to sew, and pick up items. There are those who have asked to donate, and others that continue to pray. Every day, I post for the next day's pick-ups/ deliveries/ needs. We have four drivers a day that drop off and pick up according to the needs of our volunteers. Based on what the needs are, we deliver so the tasks are completed. The drivers arrive at my home around 10 a.m., where items are placed into their vehicles and a detailed set list is given to them on where to go, who they're going to, and what they are doing: dropping off, picking up cut fabric, completed masks, donations, etc. 

What type of support have you gotten from the community?

Pape: We have been completely blown away! Something that has started out so small, is now very large and functioning like a smooth-oiled-wheel. Our community is AMAZING! But it's not just our community. We have five counties (Bryan, Effingham, Bulloch, Chatham, Screven) and other states that are sewing for our emergency personnel in Bryan County. We have had loads of fabric donated, approximately 70 volunteers that cut fabric making it easier for our sewer to just pick the squares up and go with it and sew. We currently have about 40 volunteers that are sewing masks. A group of 10 that rotate driving different routes and delivering the needs to those cutting and sewing. And we also have had monetary donations, bags donated for distribution, and personal soap/shampoo.

What does the public need to know to help?

Pape: Do NOT panic! Join us on Facebook  "Masks for Bryan". Once you join and you want to cut, sew, deliver, or donate, let me know. Check or cash can be donated. Let me know your address and we can pick it up on our routes. Mail a check to 218 Power Circle Road, Ellabell, GA 31308. PayPal:

Any closing thoughts?

Pape: I never want this to be about ME. This is a God thing and a WE thing. I could have never accomplished any of this without every single person who has prayed, cut fabric, sewed, picked up supplies, donated, delivered/pick up items. It's just amazing how our community has come together in a time of need. In a time of such uncertainty, so many people have turned the negativity of COVID-19 into something positive and meaningful for our community. Every single person involved is making sure our first responders are able to go home to their families a little more safe.

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