Tropical Hero

April 14, 2020

An HR Generalist at Tropical Foods, Jackie Haley has always had a heart for helping people. When her daughter, who works in healthcare, asked if she could make some masks for her, Jackie didn’t think twice.

Even though she had never made a mask before, it was luck that she had 4-ft tubs of fabric stored. She immediately got to work. Even though her fingers were often in pain from the steam, she felt incredibly validated from her work. Like most people, she has had trouble finding enough elastic in stock, but she’s been lucky to have people send her some whenever she is almost out.

The very first mask she made is also her favorite. A Wonder Woman mask which is fitting since her daughter is on the front line of this crisis as a lung scan operator.

What started out as a project for her family, became an even bigger cause. With a huge demand for face masks right now and many stores selling out, Jackie Haley decided to keep out her sewing machine and sew on! Completely through word of mouth, people started to hear about Jackie and asked her to make masks for themselves and loved ones. Jackie refuses to charge for masks since she doesn’t feel it’s right to profit from this need and is “just happy she’s able to use her sewing skills for good”.

It takes about 8 minutes to make each mask and since starting three weeks ago, Jackie has made almost 400 masks. “It’s awe-inspiring to think how far my masks have traveled,” Jackie said. She’s sent masks to North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan and Alaska. The mask that traveled the furthest went to a friend in Anchorage who was just getting over pneumonia and her concerned mother reached out to Jackie to make her a mask.

The most memorable mask Jackie made was for a Tampa family who had a 6-year-old currently going through chemo treatments. They were terrified of the virus and asked if she could overnight masks before the next chemo appointment. “It’s hard for me not to cry thinking about it,” Jackie said. “Moments like that just make me really thankful I’m able to use my skills to contribute during these hard times.”

Everyone at Tropical is grateful to Jackie for providing masks for employees, their families and the greater community.


Tags: employee spotlight, giving back

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