Providing Over One Million Masks for Medical Personnel and Residents

Throughout the month of April and the beginning of May, the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven, Masks for Heroes and Masks for CT have collaborated with area organizations and community volunteers to distribute over 1 million masks in 160 towns throughout Connecticut. All people need masks when social distancing is not possible in public, but not everyone can afford them or readily attain them. Masks for CT, a part of Masks for Heroes, has been distributing free masks to the general public in Connecticut since April 13. Both initiatives are being conducted in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven with 100% of tax-deductible donations to the mask effort going toward protecting the people of Connecticut.

Alarmed by the rise of COVID-19 cases in Connecticut and the lack of access to personal protective equipment (PPE), the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven, in collaboration with Madison residents Bob and Amy Stefanowski, have created Masks for Heroes. This special project is delivering needed protective surgical masks to hospitals, nursing homes, physicians and first responders throughout Connecticut. Masks for CT, an arm of Masks for Heroes, is distributing masks for the general public.

At a Masks for CT event on May 5, which started at Science Park in New Haven, people started lining up at 4:30 a.m. for a 7 a.m. start time to pick up 60,000 free masks for their families (five per car). To ease the traffic congestion, volunteers started giving out the masks around 6 a.m. In a simple, safe way, those who drove up popped open their trunk from within the vehicle and a volunteer placed a bag with five masks inside.

The May 5 event in New Haven was sponsored by United Way of Greater New Haven, Yale University and Community Foundation for Greater New Haven in collaboration with Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology (ConnCAT), 99.1 PLR, Varick Memorial AME Church, the JCC of Greater New Haven, Bethel AME Church, American Hand Sanitizer and WFSB Channel 3.

“The ConnCAT team’s ingenuity and determination to also get masks into the neighborhoods led to the successful canvassing distribution and that, combined with people walking or biking up, enabled the initiative to serve a much broader cross-section of the community. From logistics to deploying assets to the cheering on by fire truck sirens, New Haven police and New Haven fire departments supported the event. You are professional patriots of the highest order,” said Judy Alperin, the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven’s CEO.

“To all the other partners and volunteers, let this be the genesis of a new playbook. Let this be the type of collaboration which keeps our communities safe and connected…not just in a crisis. We must use all of the lessons from this pandemic, to find the good working relationships and ideas to move our city forward,” said Fire Chief John Alston Jr.

On a May 2 event held at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury, 50,000 masks and 6,000 Litchfield Distillery-donated hand sanitizer bottles were distributed. An April 28 event, which distributed 50,000 masks at the Live Nation’s Xfinity Theatre in Hartford, was so popular that volunteers ventured onto the street to get masks to people who were waiting in traffic backed up on the road. In April, volunteers packed 100,000 masks at the JCC of Greater New Haven in Woodbridge to be distributed at these events.

Future events include distributing 10,000 masks on May 12 at Torrington High School in Torrington. On May 15, United Way and Masks for CT will distribute 10,000 masks at Middletown High School in Middletown. In addition, Middlesex Hospital will oversee and sponsor a walk-up event with 5,000 masks on the South Green on May 15. Other events are being planned in Hamden, New Haven, Uncasville, Woodstock and New Milford.

To be a corporate sponsor for a Masks for CT distribution event, contact Amy Holtz, Chief Development Officer at the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven, at aholtz@jewishnewhaven.org.

To make a tax-deductible gift online, visit Masks for Heroes at jewishnewhaven.org/masksforheroes or Masks for CT at jewishnewhaven.org/masksforct. A tax-deductible check payable to Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven can also be mailed to 360 Amity Road, Woodbridge CT 06525, Attention: Masks for Heroes. One-hundred percent of the proceeds go toward protecting the people of Connecticut.