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11 unlikely sources of PPE donations

As the medical community adjusts to keep up with the pace of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare professionals are receiving PPE donations from surprising places


Examples of some of the personal protective equipment being provided to first responders during the new coronavirus pandemic are displayed during a news conference, Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in Chicago.

Tyler LaRiviere/Chicago Sun-Times via AP, Pool

Cities and states in the U.S. are under varying degrees of lockdown as citizens grapple with the spread of COVID-19. With thousands diagnosed and more being added every day, EMS providers, and clinic and hospital-based healthcare professionals are struggling to keep staff equipped with proper personal protection equipment.

But, as local leaders work with state and federal disaster officials to find a solution, supplies are being donated to those in need from a variety of unique sources.

1. Vocational schools

Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School donated hundreds of medical supplies normally used in their educational programs to New Bedford EMS, and included N95 masks, medical gloves, face shields, isolation gowns, infection control kits and alcohol prep pads.

“In these very difficult times, we all must do what we can to help our first responders and medical professionals so they can do their jobs safely while protecting their own health,” GNBVTHS Superintendent and Director James. L. O’Brien said in an interview with South Coast Today.

2. Building supply/tool suppliers

Harbor Freight Tools announced it was donating PPE supplies, including N95 masks, face shields and gloves to hospitals with 24-hour emergency rooms near their stores.

In a press release, Owner and Founder Eric Smidt said the company was donating its entire supply of protective equipment to hospital workers and first responders fighting the pandemic.

“America depends on these heroes every day and in the days ahead we will depend on them even more,” the release said. “At Harbor Freight, we want them to know that they can depend on us, too.”

3. Chronic illness sufferers

A 65-year-old Denver dialysis patient offered his backstock of face masks to a local PPE drive being held for healthcare professionals.

Walter Marshall, who uses the masks to keep from infecting his dialysis equipment, said others need supplies more than him.

“I’ve got another shipment coming in,” he said in an interview with Denver 7, “so I’m good. None of this is going to hurt me.”

Marshall also called on other dialysis patients who may have extra masks in their homes to consider doing the same.

“Find them and donate them,” he said.

4. Facebook

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg donated 720,000 masks the company had originally stockpiled as an emergency reserve to assist California firefighters with wildfire efforts.

“Health workers urgently need more protective gear,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post on social media.

5. Medical and fire-related television shows

Several shows that use PPE as props have donated those supplies to fire stations, hospitals and EMS agencies, including “Station 19,” “The Resident,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “The Good Doctor.”

Krista Vernoff, showrunner for “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Station 19,” said 300 N95 masks were donated to the City of Ontario Fire Department and a fire station in Los Feliz, California, while gowns and gloves were donated to hospitals.

“The Good Doctor” will donate masks and medical supplies to healthcare facilities in Vancouver, and “The Resident,” which films in Atlanta, made donations of masks, gowns and gloves to Grady Memorial Hospital.

6. PPE drive

In Colorado, the Denver Broncos are holding a PPE drive for community members, nonprofits and other organizations to bring unused supplies that will be donated to healthcare professionals and first responders across the state.

“We will ensure that these critically needed supplies make their way to our hospitals, who are on the front lines of the fight against the spread of COVID-19,” House Majority Leader Alec Garnett said, CBS 4 Denver reported.

7. Dental offices

A dentist in Portland, Oregon donated his practice’s entire supply of PPE to healthcare professionals, including gloves, masks and disinfectant.

“I started hearing more about the shortage of personal protective equipment, especially in a hospital setting,” Dr. Jason Bajuscak said in an interview with FOX 12 Oregon. “I know that it’s at a critical level at a lot of places.”

8. Veterinary clinics

Dr. Hannah Thomas, a veterinarian at Snodgrass Veterinary Medical Center in Bowling Green, Kentucky, donate a slew of PPE to her local hospital, just in time.

“[Dr. Thomas] called and said she had some supplies to donate,” William Moss, medical director of the Bowling Green emergency department, said. “It was good timing because at the moment, we’re running low on masks and are having to find ways to make them stretch.”

Thomas donated 30 N95 masks, 60 gowns and 200 gloves.

“We looked around at what we have that could be utilized on the human front lines,” she said in an interview with Bowling Green Daily News. “It’s not much, but supplies are getting short for first responders.”

9. Medical spas

As elective surgeries are being postponed across the country, medical spas, which provide services such as facial peels, laser hair removal and varicose vein treatment, may have a large supply of PPE available.

Katie Wafer, who owns several medical spas in Colorado, donated several boxes of supplies to the Denver PPE drive, including gloves, hand sanitizer and masks to healthcare professionals.

“They are struggling to have many of the resources I have at our spas, so I figure there’s no use in it sitting on the shelves in our store,” she said in an interview with CBS 4 Denver.

10. Construction companies

In New York, the state hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic so far, the Hayner Hoyt Corp., donated 1,200 N95 masks to St. Joseph’s Health.

“I encourage other construction businesses and construction supply companies to see if they have any PPE that they can give to our healthcare providers during this critical time,” Jeremy Thurston, president of Hayner Hoyt Corp., said in an interview with

11. Tattoo shops

Horseshoe Tattoo owner Greg Kirst in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, donated a box of face masks to Bell Ambulance, after the agency put out a call for PPE supplies.

“We tattoo their guys,” Kirst said in an interview with CBS 58 Milwaukee. “They’re also our neighbors about a half block down, so we gave them what we had and encouraged others to do the same.”

Rachel Engel is an award-winning journalist and the senior editor of and In addition to her regular editing duties, Engel seeks to tell the heroic, human stories of first responders and the importance of their work. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and began her career as a freelance writer, focusing on government and military issues. Engel joined Lexipol in 2015 and has since reported on issues related to public safety. Engel lives in Wichita, Kansas. She can be reached via email.