For two hours every Friday, two Gadsden County sisters sit in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center in Chattahoochee and wait for people to come to them.
Linda Martin and her sister, Ann Wakefield sit behind a table that is filled with masks of varying sizes and colors. From small children’s masks to masks that will fit easily over a man’s beard, the two sisters have an assortment that guarantee a mask for anyone.
According to Martin, she began sewing handmade, cloth masks for her family after three of her siblings – who work at a Jacksonville hospital, the Florida State Hospital and a local prison – needed masks at their workplaces.
“They needed masks, but they were not being provided with them,” said Martin. “They had no personal protective equipment.”
After sewing masks for her siblings, Martin received requests from her siblings’ coworkers, and ended up enlisting the help of her other sister, Ann Wakefield, in sewing the in-demand masks.
From there, the two sisters ended up noticing the lack of masks in their community and offered to make masks for others. They later decided to make masks and offer them to anyone in need and launched a free mask program.
For a while, Martin and Wakefield held their mask giveaway outdoors under a canopy tent – but the August heat later drove them indoors, and they now hold their giveaway at the recreational center on Oak Street, in Chattahoochee.
Martin and Wakefield charge nothing for their masks, but ask that anyone who is able, make a monetary donation that will go towards purchasing fabric and material for other masks.
“People are out of work and they need a mask, they just can’t afford to buy a mask,” said Martin.
Wakefield says that she has seen strangers around town wearing their masks, and it gives her a sense of pride to know they are helping others.
While the mask giveaway started as a way to help their community, Wakefield adds that people from as far away as Tallahassee have traveled to Chattahoochee to receive a free mask from the sisters and they have plenty of people from Jackson County also stopping in for a mask.
Martin estimates that she and her sister have given away over 1,000 masks.
Every Friday, Martin and Wakefield bring around 150 masks with them to the recreational center, and are prepared to give out every single one of their masks – although they usually do end up bringing some of the masks back home to be given away at a later date.
“We are going to keep doing this,” said Martin. “As long as there is a need, we will be here.”
Martin and Wakefield hold their free mask giveaway every Friday, from 10 a.m. until noon, at the recreation center located at 131 Oak Street, in Chattahoochee.
The sisters give out one mask per person, but can make special exceptions for those who are picking up masks for others.
Ashley Hunter – firstname.lastname@example.org