An Update on Mask Donations

Dear Vanguard,
 
I wanted to personally thank you all for your contributions to our donation drive. As the overlord of the inbox, I've been managing all donation requests and the outpouring of support has been heartwarming. Customer service is not always easy--sometimes people are upset and take it out in an email with us. But the generosity and goodness I've seen from you all has more than outweighed a few negative messages. We called upon our Vanguard, and you rose to the occasion magnificently.
 
Thanks to your donations and purchases on our sliding scale, we've donated 2537 masks so far to individuals and organizations in need. This effort has been a testament to the strength of our community. You helped us spread the word, you sent organizations in need our way, and of course you donated your own funds in a time of crisis to help fuel these donations.
 
We've reached the limits of our donation funding and will be exploring new ways to continue to offer free masks to organizations that request them. If you have any creative ideas, we're all ears! Comment or reach out via email. We're committed to helping as many people as we can so we can all make it through this together.
 
It has been an honor to assist these organizations with mask donations. In arranging for each donation shipment, I've had time to reflect on these groups. Many other companies are donating PPE to hospitals and medical staff, who are on the front line of the crisis. Since our fabric masks aren't medical grade, we've focused our efforts on the groups that fall through the cracks, so to speak, in times like this. Disadvantaged communities. Invisible workers. Mental health non-profits. All of the following groups are valuable to our society and have so much to offer, and we need to band together to help all of us weather this storm.
 
Holyoke is our neighbor town and we're proud to help outfit the necessary employees of the Department of Public Works. The hardworking folks who care for the streets, sidewalks, and sewers in your town often operate invisibly. We easily take for granted the work of all DPW employees, who continue to work throughout this crisis to provide necessary services. Let's keep them healthy, in appreciation for everything they do to make our daily lives smoother.
 
The Navajo Nation in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico has been hit hard by the COVID-19 virus. Many homes there have no running water and are struggling with other basic needs. This donation is a special testament to the spirit of community and charity right here in the Eastworks building of Easthampton. Our upstairs neighbor Beth McElhiney of BMc Vintage Design Studio approached us with this cause. Beth organized a personal donation drive on her own time to get as many masks as possible to the Navajo Nation, and we matched a portion of her hard work with donations of our own.
 
Brightview Senior Living (North Andover) is a senior assisted living and memory center that needed masks for their staff. Our elderly populations are especially vulnerable during this pandemic, and it's crucial that their caregivers have the protection they need to stay safe.
 
United Services offers behavioral health and social services in Connecticut. Amidst the current crisis, they are still running necessary services that can't be shutdown or safely distanced, like domestic violence shelters and residential group homes. Domestic violence rates have risen during the current situation and these services are crucial to providing a safe option to victims of domestic violence. With masks, United Services' staff can continue to offer excellent care to those most in need right now.
 
United Community Centers is an East NY non-profit that normally runs youth programs, free meals for children, workshops for immigrants, and more. In this time of emergency, they've pivoted to delivering free groceries to those in need and were in need of masks to ensure they could conduct deliveries safely. One of our long-time customers, Juan, requested this donation assistance as his mother is involved with the center. We've been touched to see familiar names in our inbox pop up with donation suggestions or recommendations--thank you, thank you, thank you for your good hearts.
 
Way Finders is based in nearby Springfield and works throughout Western Massachusetts to lift people out of homelessness. They offer housing services, employment support, and work on building community access to affordable, high-quality housing. The current economic crisis means that more people need or will need services like Way Finders to help them keep their housing and security. The ripple effects of COVID-19 are widespread, and will be felt for a long time.
 
Community Teaching Homes Ohio provides placement services for children in foster care, and is one of the many non-profit organizations continuing to operate during this pandemic that many of us don't think about in our daily lives. Both the children and the staff are vulnerable during this time and need to stay protected. Many thanks to James, one of our customers who works with CTH Ohio and helped facilitate this connection. James first met us at GenCon and is a shining example of how a chance meeting at a convention can lead to something much bigger.
 
Progress Foundation provides community-based mental health services in the San Francisco area. These types of organizations are crucial to keeping individuals and communities mentally healthy--not just physically healthy--and their work does not end just because of a state shutdown order. One of our top conversation starters on Discord, Randy, reached out to us for this donation as his sister in law works for Progress Foundation. We're proud to be in your mind, that you trust us with these requests.
 
Thank you again. You're all the real superheros here, we're just your friendly neighborhood outfitter.
 
Emma

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