Tri-Citians urged to donate N95 respirators, food, cash. Here’s how to help
Tri-City businesses and nonprofits are rallying the community to support hospitals, health care workers, seniors and families struggling to secure the resources they need to combat the spread of coronavirus, which causes the deadly COVID-19.
Here are some of the ways to help.
O’Brien Construction collects respirators
O’Brien Construction is challenging contractors to donate N95 respirators to distribute to hospitals, first responders and medical care providers. Shortages have plagued the frontline workers caring for the sick.
The Kennewick contractor is sweetening the pot with a prize for the individual or group that donates the most equipment – a guided fishing trip with Tony Fisher of Fisher’s Catch Outfitters, a Columbia River guide service based in Kennewick. Owner Tony Fisher is an incoming employee of O’Brien who offered his services to help support the drive.
Zak O’Brien said the company hopes to gather at least 1,000 N95 respirators. It has collected about 250 to date, the effort propelled by local media coverage.
O’Brien notes the industry is the largest user of N95 respirators, which are to protect workers from airborne dirt and other particles. Workplace safety rules dictate that workers wear different kinds of protective gear to prevent inhalation of paint fumes and other chemicals. O’Brien said the N95 masks are the most basic.
He said the company will continue to buy the equipment through its normal channels as supplies are available. In the interim, he intends to “give until it hurts.”
N905 respirators are different from N95 masks. The former is a tight-fitting mask designed for a snug fit. The latter has softer edges and is more akin to a surgical mask that ties over the face but does not cinch to it.
N95 respirators can be dropped at the O’Brien office, 501 N. Quay St., Suite C 101, in Kennewick.
O’Brien isn’t the only one rounding up key gear.
Support for seniors
The Richland Seniors Association and the Interagency Planning Group, an association of Tri-City retirement centers, has launched Helping Hands for Seniors TC, a COVID-19 outreach effort to identify seniors, in the community who may be in need of food and home supplies.
It is particularly concerned about seniors who may not use computers or have family nearby or who don’t have the financial ability to stock up on needed supplies.
Send suggestions, including lists of the supplies needed, to Katie Haynes at firstname.lastname@example.org
The effort is gathering food, books, magazines, newspapers, toiletries, hygiene items, pet supplies, toilet paper and other needed items.
Follow the effort on Facebook at Helping Hands for Seniors TC: facebook.com/HelpingHandsForSeniorsTC.
Drop off donations at Windsong Southridge, 4000 W. 24th Ave., Kennewick, or at PCP Consulting, 732 N. Center Parkway, also in Kennewick.
Give to United Way
United Way of Benton & Franklin Counties has set up a fund to support nonprofits that are straining to help families affected by school and business closures due to the coronavirus response.
Donations will be distributed to organizations providing food and childcare during the emergency.
Give at give.uwbfco.org/givenow.
Nonprofits can apply for funds starting March 26. Go to uwbfco.org for details or call 509-783-4102.
TRIDEC collects protective equipment
The Tri-City Development Council is coordinating donations of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies to address critical shortages at local hospitals.
Drop donations off through March 23 at the Tri-Cities Business and Visitor Center, 7130 W. Grandridge Blvd, Kennewick.
Needed supplies include: Masks – surgical masks, N95 masks or handmade, disinfecting wipes (must state it kills viruses), face shields and goggles, thermometers, finger oximeters, hand sanitizer, gloves (non latex preferred) and isolation gowns.