Central Florida heroes score at Million Mask Challenge


ORLANDO, Florida – When face masks were in great demand and in short supply, people all over the world were looking for ways to make their own. Some heroes mobilized to make them for others, and the Million Mask Challenge-We Need You group joined the efforts of those who wanted to fill the need.

With a background in fashion design, mask making during the pandemic became easy for Vanessa Loomie, but the real estate agent wanted to do more. When she discovered the Million Mask Challenge group on Facebook, everything aligned with her talents and expertise.

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“At one point I was like, you know, I can make masks, but I’m also really good at project management,” she said.

Loomie partnered with Facebook page creator Andrea Ruiz-Hayes and together they coordinated 2,000 volunteers who helped make nearly 150,000 masks over the past year.

“We need seamstresses, we need people who cut the fabric, we need people to help us with deliveries, we need donors because we need people to sponsor the expeditions,” he said. she declared.

Loomie spent long nights packing mask-making kits and coordinating supplies for distribution. Sometimes the operation took over his house.

“When we were in quarantine and all isolated and it was hard to meet people or socialize, it was an outlet for people to come together and have a sense of camaraderie and that brought out all the ages, ”Loomie said.

Through their mutual desire to help people, she says, the members of the group, made up of everyone from college students to the elderly, have found kinship.

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“We had two students from Lake Highland, and they made 500 masks with their mom. We had a nurse who worked full time and she made the effort to make 100 masks a week despite her full time job. And then we had grandmothers who were, like, stuck at home and couldn’t see their grandchildren, but they said, “I really want to do something.”

Loomie said the volunteer work had helped her last year.

“The pandemic has been tough on a lot of people. It was hard for me personally and the only way for me to swim in those dark waters was to come out of myself and see the good I could do, ”she said. “In a time when I shouldn’t have met anyone, I made all these friends and from all walks of life, all with the same heart and the same sense of concern for people.”

No matter what the future holds, Loomie says working with people who are willing to help each other is inspiring.

“There is a famous phrase that came out of Mr. Rogers for ‘Seek the helpers’, and I think that can comfort us, but we should also be the help. I think we should be inspired and look around and see what opportunities there are to make an impact in the world and do something for the rest of humanity. There is always something you can do and I think this group has shown me that I can do it, and I hope that has inspired other people to get involved.

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Nationally, the Million Mask Challenge network exceeded its goal with more than 2 million masks manufactured and distributed. Loomie says the focus is now on manufacturing scrubs and hospital gowns to meet ongoing healthcare needs.

Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All rights reserved.

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