Good Samaritans noticed that first responders needed personal protective gear and decided to do something about it
With the ongoing coronavirus outbreak sweeping the nation, many people are holed up in their homes waiting it out, waiting for life as we know it to return to some sense of normalcy. But the residents of Garden City aren’t just waiting it out; they’re actively going out of their way during this pandemic to selflessly help those who need it the most- our first responders.
So when the pandemic hit, a Garden City resident named Joe Cianciotto started to notice that first responders – hospitals in particular – were suffering from a lack of the personal protective gear (PPE) they so desperately needed in order to help others, he decided he would do something about it.
“I’m thrilled to be the facilitator of this, but it’s really about my town coming together. I’m proud of how amazing the people of Garden City are,” he said. “When this pandemic happened, I just didn’t want to feel helpless. So we came together as a town to see what was needed, and it was very clear that there was no PPE for hospital workers. There just wasn’t enough to go around, through no fault of their own. Many workers either had to share face shields, or they just went without them.”
Cianciotto got together with a fabricator – 71 Visuals of Hauppauge
– who agreed to manufacture plastic face shields at cost. From there, the residents of Garden City pooled their resources and raised the funds for the first batch of 1,500 to be made, which was then donated to Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola. And the movement just grew from there.
“I put it out there on our community Facebook page that we were looking for donations to get the masks made for Winthrop, and everyone came together and we raised $6,000 in four days, which is just amazing,” Cianciotto said. “The following week, our aim was to donate another 1,000 face shields for a campaign we created on the grounds of the Mineola Courthouse called #ShieldThesefaces. We did a curbside pickup and in one day went through all 1,000 of the PPE.”
First responders with donated PPE from Garden City residents. Photo Credit: Joe Cianciotto
Seeing the driving need for this protective gear in hospitals and among individual first responders throughout Long Island, Cianciotto immediately grew determined to keep this weekly cycle of manufacturing and delivering the much-needed face shields to whoever needed them going as long as possible. To that end, he has created a GoFundMe page
to solicit donations from anyone and everyone willing to pitch in to support a vital cause.
In addition to the regular curbside pickup events that Cianciotto and his fellow volunteers put on to get the PPE out to the needy, he also noted that those with more urgent and pressing need can reach out to him directly to arrange a location for an immediate pickup. An appointment can be made by clicking on this link
, and social distancing guidelines will be maintained the entire time.
“The first responder or hospital worker can just let me know what day and time they’re coming,” Cianciotto said. “I’ll leave the gear in a box on a table at the agreed-upon location. They can walk up, take the gear, text me to let me know they have it, and be on their way. There’s no face-to-face contact so it’s perfectly safe.”
Being able to help out while the country faces one of its gravest health crises in decades not only brings a tremendous sense civic-minded duty, Cianciotto said, but watching the entire Garden City community that he loves pitch in as a team to help the bravest among us at their time of need breeds a massive sense of pride as well.
“I want to get the word out to first responders that we have these face shields for them. People don’t realize how bad this pandemic is, and how first responders are still going to work every day and doing their jobs,” he said. “It feels good not to feel helpless, but it’s also incredibly humbling because I’m not the one putting my life at risk. As long as they need it, I want to be doing this for them, and I want to do more. And it really blows me away how generous my community has been throughout all of this.”