7961440064?profile=originalSunny (recovering from surgery) and Steve Otto, showing off their masks made by ORGC members. Photo provided

In response to a recent State-wide order urging all Floridians to wear a face covering when venturing outside their homes, members of the Ocean Ridge Garden Club (ORGC) saw a need and are filling it. With no beach access and condo community pools closed, a daily walk is an important outlet for town residents, and masks may allow pedestrians to pass each other safely along Old Ocean Blvd and elsewhere.

Since the use of N95 and other medical-grade masks should be reserved for first responders and healthcare workers, ORGC seamsters are stepping up and making cloth masks for distribution within the town.  After first ensuring that all Ocean Ridge police officers, officials and staff had masks for their off-duty hours, Community Policing Officer Debra Boyle distributed masks to elderly and infirm residents with whom she regularly checks in.  Next, ORGC members and many other Ocean Ridge residents were given a mask for each family member in their homes.

The masks are made with two layers of 100% cotton, as recommended by the CDC for cloth face coverings, with ear loops or ties.  The fabrics are a variety of fun colorful prints, but, of course, neither fun nor fashion is the goal.  The CDC has recommended that the public wear such masks to help prevent spreading of the coronavirus, which is particularly important since asymptomatic individuals may not be aware they have been infected and can pass it to others without precautions such as wearing a mask. 

The project was led by ORGC members Kristine de Haseth (also mayor of the Town of Ocean Ridge) and Stella Kolb.  Stella had the sewing skills to complement Kristine’s logistical and communication skills, and a plan soon took shape.  Stella acquired the needed materials and recruited another dozen members to help her construct the masks, while Kristine reached out to the town officials, ORGC members and community to offer the masks free of charge.  The team effort has produced and distributed over 300 masks so far.  But they were not expecting the response they have received from the mask recipients.  “We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the expressions of gratitude and generous donations we have received,” said Stella. “The need for these was bigger than we had even anticipated.”   

The work continues, with more members getting involved, with the goal of providing face masks to residents of Ocean Ridge until they are no longer needed.  “The Ocean Ridge Garden Club does many things for the Town, and we are happy to work together to do what we can in this uncertain time to unite and keep our community safe,” said Mayor de Haseth.

About Ocean Ridge Garden Club:

Ocean Ridge Garden Club (ORGC), a 501(c)(3) non profit organization, was founded in 1996 and is the only service club located in Ocean Ridge.  The mission of ORGC is to further the education of the members and the public in the fields of gardening, horticulture, floral design, garden-related art, civic outreach, environmental awareness, conservation of natural resources and civic beautification while instilling the love of gardening and respect to protect our natural environs.

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