FLDR donates 13,000-plus N95 masks for COVID-19 fight

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LEESBURG–In response to the critical need for N95 respirator masks during the current COVID-19 pandemic, Florida Baptist Disaster Relief and Recovery Ministries (FLDR) has donated more than 13,000 masks to the state for use by medical professionals.

Two pallets of mask boxes–or about 11,500 masks–were donated to the Agency for People with Disabilities out of Gainesville. APD is a state agency that serves more than 50,000 people with developmental disabilities. Another 1,500 masks were donated to a hospital in Tallahassee.

Because the N95 masks offer crucial protection to those who are treating infected COVID-19 patients, demand for them has caused a nationwide shortage as the disease continues to spread. These disposable masks form a seal around the mouth and nose to filter air before it is inhaled.

“The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) is grateful to have received the N95 masks from the Florida Baptist Convention to be used at our three APD centers in Gainesville, Marianna and Chattahoochee,” said APD Director Barbara Palmer.

Noting that the COVID-19 outbreak across the country caused equipment shortages everywhere, Palmer expressed appreciation for the “extreme generosity during these challenging times. These masks will be well used when our employees are providing health care to the nearly 700 people who live at these facilities.”

Marvin Corbin, FLDR operations manager, said the large supply of masks were left over from the ministry’s response to Hurricane Michael in 2018. Typically, masks are used by ministry volunteers who help restore flooded homes after a hurricane or storm. Because there was no major flooding during Michael, the unused boxes of masks had been stored in the FLDR’s warehouse at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in Leesburg.

FLDR learned about the critical need for masks from being a partner agency of the State Emergency Operations Center, which was activated March 6 in response to the pandemic. The EOC sends out daily emails offering the latest updates, needs and mandates from the state.

“After seeing there was a critical need for the masks, I knew we could help,” Corbin said. “We sure don’t want to be sitting on something that could save someone’s life like that.”

After connecting with ADP for pickup of the masks, Corbin was contacted by a Tallahassee hospital also in need of masks. He searched through a second warehouse and found another 1,500 masks.

FLDR is multi-faceted in its response to disasters, including clean-up and recovery teams and feeding teams. With two large mass feeding mobile units, the team can prepare more than 32,000 meals a day. With help from other states, the team prepared more than 890,000 meals after Hurricane Michael.

“We’re really just doing what the Lord has told us to do,” Corbin said of the mask donation and all the work the teams do. “The Lord told us to go out and love our brother and take care of him as we would take care of ourselves. By doing this, I’m taking care of my brother and sister, and in turn, making life easier for everyone.”

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