While the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect every facet of daily life in Cherry Hill and beyond, the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey is committed to continuing the fight and keeping residents safe and healthy as possible.
The organization has begun a Protect and Support initiative, where boxes of disposable masks are available to be purchased for individuals and their families, and can also be purchased for donation to anyone who does not have the means to pay.
“We launched the fundraiser on May 22, and we started promoting hard core, the week after that, after the Memorial Day weekend,” said Karen Bray-Pollak, director of marketing and communication for JFSNJ.
“This is the brainchild of Rob Kiewe, our director of operations. Through some contacts he had, we were able to secure the masks. As things start to reopen in New Jersey, he knew people would be looking for masks and the Jewish population would need them to return to synagogues and public spaces.”
According to both Bray-Pollak and Kiewe, the masks in question are three-ply, disposable, FDA-approved and medical-grade masks purchased from outside interests, through a contact who is one of the JFSNJ’s major donors.
“There are a lot of scammers out there hawking bad stuff. We do know they are medical grade,” Kiewe said. “We know that we wanted these supplies for our own purposes and for our own building, and we recognized it could be of use for the community at large.”
Kiewe added that in the process of procuring the goods, he’s learned more about personal protective equipment in the last several weeks than he knew in his life up to this point.
“In the last four weeks, a group of people came to us and wanted to be helpful, all of whom work in the purchasing and buying world — not really for these supplies specifically — but they have come to be in this business,” he said.
These people, who are known to, and have been good to, the organization, wanted to help the cause and are people I did not know weeks ago. I spoke to them separately and put their brain power together to help.”
Bray-Pollak revealed there is no limit to the number of boxes one may purchase, and explained how a buyer could maximize the offer.
“We’re selling one box for $54, two boxes for $100,” she explained. “We were able to get the boxes at a price which allowed us to facilitate the fundraiser and help the community. We’re also providing a tangible item that leads to the goal of health and wellness for the person who purchases.”
Kiewe added that he has thousands of boxes and hundreds of thousands of masks available right now.
“It’s going to be a good thing to buy one for yourself and buy another to donate to others,” he suggested.
Bray-Pollak envisions the fundraiser to last as long as people are in need of masks to go about their daily lives, as social and business restrictions are lifted and the public ventures outdoors more often.
“It’s not just a need in the community, but as long as people are looking to purchase, and as long as others wish to support the community as we deal with the fallout,” she offered.
“We don’t have a specific cutoff date, but everyone’s expecting that there will still be a call to wear them after things get better.”
Kiewe’s next step is to figure out what else the community needs to deal with in the near future and asking these same folks to procure those goods.
All proceeds from the sale of the masks is intended for the JFSNJ COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. To make a purchase, visit: https://jewishsouthjersey.org/masks.