Aids Programs South Saskatchewan has gathered thousands of donated masks for its clients. Cole Woytiuk (left) helped organize the campaign. (Marc Smith/CTV News)

In just a few weeks, Aids Programs South Saskatchewan (APSS) has seen how generous Regina citizens can be.

When the provincial government implemented a mandatory mask policy, those who work with APSS knew it could create barriers for their clients.

“A mandatory mask policy, though it is very imperative that we implement it, for certain communities this could be a potential barrier for them accessing necessary services such as health care services or even just going to the grocery store,” Cole Woytiuk, a nursing student and community health nurse with APSS, said.

The organization helps people who are living with HIV/AIDS by providing relevant and current information and support services.

Amanda Sauer, the education coordinator for APSS, said many of their clients come from low-income situations and are immunocompromised.

She said they can see between 100-150 clients each day.

“Even having access to basic necessities is sometimes difficult. To ask them to get a mask it just too much. It’s extra,” Sauer said.

That’s why Woytiuk, with the help of some colleagues, decided to reach out to the community for mask donations.

“We thought because masks are so expensive, we’ll see how the community would respond to us reaching out to see if we can get non-reusable masks and reusable masks,” he said.

Woytiuk said the response has been overwhelming. So far they’ve received more than 300 reusable masks and more than 10,000 disposable masks from various community groups and individuals.

“It’s just that much better than we can keep them safe that way,” Sauer said. “We want to do everything we can to protect them.”

Although the community has already stepped up, the need for donations continues.

“Even though we have a wonderful stock in supply right now, we’re always looking for more,” Sauer said. “We’re always hoping to have as much as readily available on hand for our clients because we don’t know how long COVID-19 is going to last.”

APSS said it’s currently working with public health to determine the safest way to hand out reusable masks to clients. In the mean time, it’s handing out the disposable masks.

Donations can be dropped off during officer hours from Tuesday to Sunday.

With files from CTV News Regina's Marc Smith