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Members of Cleveland's Vietnamese community make, give away free masks

Posted at 1:37 PM, Apr 26, 2020

CLEVELAND — Many people are selflessly serving their communities during the COVID-19 crisis, including some members of Cleveland’s Vietnamese community.

Though it's not mandatory, it is recommended that people wear masks while they’re out in public spaces. Members of the Friendship Foundation of American Vietnamese agree. They gave away hand made masks on the city’s west side Sunday morning.

They’re all hand made by members of Cleveland’s Vietnamese community. Families dedicated their time, labor, and money to make about 300 of them for Sunday’s giveaway. Volunteers ran out of masks to give away well ahead of the noon cut off.

“Ordinary people like us here, I saw many people pass by here, I go to the market and I see people don’t wear them,” Gia Hoa Ryan, the founder of Friendship Foundation of American Vietnamese, said.

Ryan is a native of Vietnam. She says it's common for people there to carry cloth masks in their pockets, even without the threat of a pandemic, so he wants people in Cleveland to pick up the habit.

Last weekend, volunteers gave out nearly 500 masks.

“I know that’s 500 people that’s trying to prevent 500 virus from going to other people,” Ryan said.

Sunday, several more people stopped by to pick up masks doing their part to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“I have a mother that’s 78 years old. I don’t want to get her sick and I don’t want anyone else to get her sick,” Jessica Pescho, a Cleveland resident who stopped to pick up some free masks, said.

The foundation is hoping to pass out more masks, but they need more volunteers to help make them. Anyone interested in volunteering should call Gia Hoa Ryan at 216-651-5748 or 216-406-5680.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.