On a whim, Judy Robinson purchased a bucket of wire at a farm auction for 25 cents. She had no use for it at the time. Later, however, she would use the wire for a mission to fight COVID-19.
A member of Sugar Grove United Methodist Church in Sugar Grove, Ohio, Robinson wanted to respond to the pandemic. "We had a feeding ministry," she said, "but the state restrictions kept us from it." A seamstress and textile business owner, she recruited three other women to make 100 masks. "All I did was give them the pattern and some of the wire from the farm auction, and the mission began," Robinson added. Their pastor, the Rev. Tony Hudson was very supportive of the project.
Robinson and her team planned two drive-thru events for people to pick up masks. Packaged in plastic bags with information about Sugar Grove UMC, the masks were attached to makeshift clotheslines, creating a drive-thru lane. Once in the lane, the car occupant selected a mask, and a volunteer brought it to the car. Social distancing was honored. To promote the events, Robinson used social media. "We put information on community and township Facebook pages," she explained. "We saw people we would have never seen if we didn't post on those Facebook pages."
These drive -thru events were a time for the community to come together. Sugar Grove UMC had worked with the local Catholic and Lutheran churches throughout the year before COVID. This mission became an opportunity for safe fellowship after months of sheltering in place.
Volunteers made 250 masks, with some leftover masks remaining at the church.
On May 24, Sugar Grove UMC returned to in-person worship. Anyone who arrived without a mask was given one to protect their neighbors and themselves.
This opportunity filled a spot for many who felt their outreach missions were stopped abruptly. This gave them a new opportunity to serve their community in a new and different way.