Volunteers make 2,500 masks
With Gov. Ralph Northam’s recent decision to make face coverings mandatory in a public setting, two local good Samaritans are donating their time and resources to make sure all folks can comply.
Big Stone Gap resident Megan Gilley and Haysi resident Barbara Wilbur began making masks for different reasons.
Gilley provides clinical mental health services in Norton. Her concern with the health of the masses runs deep as the parent of a child with “complex medical needs,” she says.
“To me, this was an issue of public health,” Gilley said. “The community my children live in . . . was in danger. We needed to flatten the curve and work on keeping our community safe and healthy. I had to help in some way.”
Among the places Gilley has sent masks is to Dr. Todd Pillion, a dentist who is also a Virginia state senator. Pillion has distributed them to patients.
Wilbur is from Richmond, but her family’s roots are in Southwest Virginia. Seven years ago, she and her husband “stepped out in faith” and moved to Haysi to teach the Bible. The first winter she was here, she got snowed in. In boredom, Wilbur taught herself to quilt by watching YouTube videos.
As far as donating the masks, Wilbur said, “It is just the right thing to do.”
It became a community effort as people started leaving money or fabric in her mailbox.
At last count, Wilbur was nearing 1,000 total masks made; Gilley has made approximately 1,500 masks. Both ladies sew most days and spend anywhere from four to 12 hours, depending on demand for the masks.
Gilley describes her free mask making as a “labor of love” and she has happy to donate her time while on furlough as a way to “love thy neighbor while maintaining social distance and staying home.
“Everyone needs them but everyone doesn’t have extra money to buy them and ensure their families have them to wear in public,” Gilley said. “Even if they do have the funds available, I still considered it to be more of a community service.”
Gilley has also received assistance from the Appalachian Artisan in Big Stone Gap when she could not get elastic due to shortages.
If anyone wants to assist her efforts, Gilley said, they can contact her through her Facebook page.
Wilbur understands that masks don’t fix everything, but wants to assist others in taking safety precautions. She also has obtained a variety of fabric and keeps the person in mind in order to pick a design that will fit their personality.
Wilbur also cites her faith as a driving force behind her charity.
“There is something about helping someone else that really gives the giver hope,” Wilbur said. “We must all do what we can to help and I just want to be the hands and feet of Jesus when I can.”
Please support the Big Stone Gap Post by subscribing today!