This Nurse is a Hometown Hero for Creating A ‘Take-What-You-Need’ Pantry For Her Virginia Hospital

Do you remember when the aisles of grocery stores were emptied of toilet paper and other staples at the beginning of the pandemic?

Nurse Stacy Mason recalls seeing her fellow healthcare workers finishing up long shifts caring for the sick in ICU, only to find the sundries they needed for their families–like diapers and sanitary wipes–couldn’t be found anywhere.

The Virginia mother-of-two had an idea: She could start a pantry in her Intensive Care Unit. Then staff could share any extras they had with their colleagues.

The pantry took off immediately. Inspired by its success, Stacy then thought to herself: if sharing is working at this small scale, couldn’t it work for the whole of Mary Washington Healthcare?

For her brilliant launching of such a vital resource in her community, she’s been recognized as a Hometown Hero of Fauquier County.

These days, it’s not just Stacy working on the volunteering effort. An entire ‘Mary Washington Hospital Team Pantry’ has come together. Their mantra for the donations initiative? “Give what you can: take what you need.’”

Toothpaste and other basic toiletries that hospital workers just don’t have time to shop for often show up as donations. Baby products are also typically available, as are nonperishable food items—no questions asked.

Mason tells The Free Lance-Star, “Now that summer has come, we’re seeing some fresh produce come in, items grown in people’s gardens, and that’s really neat.”

“There are plenty of people who come through and take advantage of the pantry who are now in single-income families because of the virus,” she said. “There are also others who have lost a loved one and are facing different financial realities, and staffers who aren’t working the number of hours they once did.”

The pantry has made a big difference in people’s lives. “We know that many of our associates’ families are feeling the economic impacts of coronavirus,” Mary Washington Healthcare posted on Facebook, “and it’s nurses like Stacy Mason who demonstrate why 2020 is the Year of the Nurse.”