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Islander selling face masks to support charities

By TIFFANY REPECKI / trepecki@breezenewspapers.com - | Oct 13, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED Sandy Bieri is making and selling face masks at her family's restaurant, The Green Flash on Captiva, and online with the proceeds benefitting the buyer's choice from a list of several charities.

A Sanibel resident with ties to two restaurants on Captiva has been making and selling face masks the last couple of months, with buyers able to pick one of several charities for the proceeds to benefit.

Sandy Bieri — whose husband, Andreas Bieri, owns The Green Flash and The Mucky Duck — explained that when COVID-19 hit, it became apparent to her that masks were going to be a necessity. She felt compelled to learn how to make them, despite not having sewed since she was a child.

“I felt like it was kind of a God thing. I know it sounds corny, but I felt like I didn’t have a choice. I just had to do it,” Bieri said. “Something told me I just needed to make masks and donate the proceeds.”

With no idea where to start or how to make one, she reached out to a friend who sent her a simple pattern for one. Bieri then had to find cloth — and ended up using an old Green Flash T-shirt.

“That was my first mask,” she said. “That was in late April.”

PHOTO PROVIDED Sandy Bieri is making and selling face masks at her family's restaurant, The Green Flash on Captiva, and online with the proceeds benefitting the buyer's choice from a list of several charities.

Bieri has since spent dozens of hours watching tutorials, downloading patterns, experimenting, purchasing supplies online and in stores, and experimenting some more. In May, she finished her first set of masks — 17 or 18 in total — and delivered them to the Salvation Army’s House of Hope.

“I donated them there,” Bieri said.

She also set up a little stand at The Green Flash with her masks on display. Bieri explained that she thought if she ended up selling any, she would donate the proceeds to the Salvation Army, too.

“And then I decided to open it up,” Bieri said.

Buyers can pick to support any one of the following causes: American Red Cross, Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, Fisher House Foundation, Nations Association, National Alliance to End Homelessness, Salvation Army of Florida, Samaritan’s Purse, Sanibel Community Church, Teen Challenge, and Track To Trail Thoroughbreds.

PHOTO PROVIDED Sandy Bieri is making and selling face masks at her family's restaurant, The Green Flash on Captiva, and online with the proceeds benefitting the buyer's choice from a list of several charities.

“I tried to have a choice for people,” she said.

Bieri added that the aim is to encourage people to give back.

“The whole point is to encourage people to generously donate — and then getting the mask is the bonus,” she said. “I feel like there’s always someone who needs more help than we do.”

A few months ago, Bieri built from scratch a Website and then launched it so people could custom order masks from her. She also created a Facebook page to connect with those on social media.

“I’ve raised over $1,200 so far,” Bieri said. “It’s not a huge amount, but it’s something.”

She highlighted how generous people have been.

“I’ve had folks pay anywhere from $25 to $50 for a mask, and this has meant so much to me. I know they aren’t doing this because my masks are so amazing, but rather because they know the funds are going somewhere needed,” Bieri said. “It really warms my heart and makes doing this so worthwhile.”

“Many people are very generous in nature, anyway, and the masks simply provide another avenue for giving,” she added. “It’s all about bringing something positive to the table.”

Those interested can step into The Green Flash to browse the mask stand.

“They’re premade. I do the simple pleated mask,” Bieri said of the style available for purchase on-site, explaining that they are double-layered — most made of cotton — with a filter pocket for those who want it. “I wanted to make something that was light and breathable, because it gets so hot and muggy.”

While she uses a medium-size pattern, the masks are adjustable.

“Because they have the adjustable ear loops, they can fit most people,” Bieri said.

The masks are $15 each.

For those not on the island or who would like a custom-made mask, they can hop online. The site features ones already made and available for sale, as well as samples of what she can make. Custom options include filtration, fabric, elastic and more, even a necklace so it can hang when not in use.

The online masks range from $12 to over $20.

“Depending on what kind of bells and whistles they want on it,” she said.

With so much stress and anxiety today, sometimes people forget that there are others who are less fortunate. Bieri hopes her masks get people to think generously and give back when possible.

“To do something good — and feel good,” she said.

“And hopefully inspire someone else to do something similar,” Bieri added.

For more information, visit https://sanbiericreations.com or www.facebook.com/sanbiericreations.