Drive Up Face Mask Giveaway

HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- Since the governor’s order requiring everyone to wear a face mask in public went into effect, Channel 3 heard from hundreds of people.

Some people can’t find masks, others can’t afford them.

Whatever the issue, there are thousands of people across Connecticut who need masks.

Channel 3 joined other groups for a 3Cares event called “Masks for Connecticut" on Tuesday, April 28.

"On the one point I feel very gratified, on the other point people shouldn't have to wait in line for an hour to get a mask. It's hard," said Bob Stefanowski, who helped start Mask for CT.

As of 11 a.m., organizers reported that 30,000 masks were given out. By the end of the day, close to 50,000 were handed out.

Eyewitness News, along with 99.1 WPLR and The Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven started giving away free masks at 7 a.m. at the Xfinity Theatre in Hartford, 61 Savitt Way in Hartford. 

All people had to do is drive through, pop the trunk, and volunteers dropped a bag with five surgical masks inside.

The charity “Masks for Connecticut,” with help from Pratt and Whitney, are providing the masks.

Masks for Connecticut was started by Bob Stefanowski, who joined forces with the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven.

Preparations for the event started Sunday with volunteers boxing up supplies.

"My heart is exploding with love right now. We are overwhelmed with volunteers who’ve come out today to help us with our masks for CT efforts," said Judy Alperin, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven.

They have more than 100 volunteers who travel all over, including New York and New Jersey, and get masks.

The focus started with first responders, fire and police and EMTs. Now they are getting a lot of calls from nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

"We had gotten a few calls where we had dropped of a couple thousand masks and then two days later you get a call from a nurse saying I don't have one, and we don't question it. We bring over another 500 or whatever the need be, but it doesn't seem like the distribution is always there,” Bob Stefanowski said.

"We also are getting calls from people helping us distribute PPE’s because they have a relationship with the nursing homes so they come in quickly and they know we can get product out,” said Amy Stefanowski.

Helping Connecticut has become a labor of love, the Stefanowskis said.

Pratt and Whitney has also been making plastic face shields, 10,000 of them. They’ve been assembling them and shipping them out of their hangar in East Hartford. They’ll be handing out masks on Tuesday as well.

"Pratt and Whitney has always been part of the community for 95 years. Our employees, our families in our community are so important to us we want to ensure that people get the proper protective equipment,” said Jill Albertelli, of Pratt & Whitney.

Another mask event will be held on Friday, May 1 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury.

To make a donation to Mask For CT, click here.

Copyright 2020 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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