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Masks serve an essential role for Georgian Bay island community

All passengers aboard vessels in the Great Lakes, including those taking the Christian Island ferry, must now wear face masks.
Staff from Victoria Village in Barrie wear their masks made by a regional sewing group. Photo courtesy Homemade Masks for Hometown Heros (Barrie Simcoe North)

When Jeff Monague put out the call seeking masks to help Christian Island residents cope with COVID-19, he wasn’t sure what to expect.

But with 400 masks already delivered and more pending, Monague said he’s been overwhelmed with the response and the community’s support to help the Georgian Bay island’s 800 residents.

“I made a request to a couple of people to get masks last week,” Monague said, noting those initial conversations led to a posting on social media and an eventual influx of the much-desired item.

“I was pleasantly surprised that my request was shared widely and Simcoe County stepped up as I am getting masks from Barrie, Orillia and parts in between from various community groups, church groups and at least one business," said Monague. "We took the first order over yesterday.”

The fabric masks are homemade, washable and, therefore, reusable with some even featuring pockets that would allow for a filter to be inserted.

Monague said the mask delivery has also proven to be especially timely for those taking the ferry between Christian Island and the mainland.

“The Coast Guard issued a directive stating that all passengers aboard vessels in the Great Lakes must now wear face masks as a precaution during this pandemic,” Monague said.

Tiny Township resident Trish Campbell and others from Homemade Masks for Hometown Heros (Barrie Simcoe North) were one such volunteer group that answered Monague’s call.

“We need to give a big shout out to our sewists,” Campbell said, adding that the regional sewing project and now features dozens of area residents workign together with a common goal.

Since its inception, the group has created 4,500 masks and 300 scrub caps for area hospitals and long-term-care homes.

“We have depots in Midland, Horseshoe Valley and Barrie,” Campbell said, noting having a few centralized locations allows volunteers to drop off and pick up masks at set points for delivery throughout the region.

“We’re covering Barrie, Orillia, Collingwood, Midland and everything in between. It’s really quite incredible how quickly it grew and how many masks we’ve been able to produce.”

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Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country‚Äôs most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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