Island Cow selling masks to fund free ones for first responders
As the region is faced with a critical shortage of protective face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, two local business owners and their family have been sewing their own to help fulfill the need for first responders. Now, the family is offering the masks to the general public, as well.
Elke and Brian Podlasek, of The Island Cow on Sanibel, along with their two daughters, have sewn over 3,000 masks for donation to the staff at Lee Health, as well as to local fire and police departments and other first responders. To help fund the initiative and offer the masks community-wide, they are now making the masks available to the public for purchase.
“We want to do everything we can to support our health care workers and first responders with these critical supplies,” Elke Podlasek said. “Our hope is that by extending this resource to more people in our community, we will help our friends and neighbors stay safe while also being able to provide even more masks to help those who are on the front lines every day.”
The special cow-print mask is $12.95, with shipping included; limit of four masks per order. All proceeds from the sales will help fund the materials needed to make more masks for first responders.
Additionally, people can donate directly to fund the materials for the additional masks by visiting www.SanibelIslandCow.com, clicking on the “Shop” tab and selecting the “Pay-It-Forward” option.
All masks sold to the public will include a protective filter using Halyard H600, a two-ply spun polypropylene. According to a report from the University of Florida’s health department, the material is “thought to be superior to the common surgical mask in its ability to block aerosols and droplets, including water, bacteria and other particles.”
The Island Cow is also fulfilling bulk orders for local businesses that are continuing to operate or reopening their business. Masks for bulk orders may be customized with embroidered company logos.
Businesses in need of masks can call 239-848-5533 for more information.
The family is also collecting funds for mask production through Kids’ Care Disaster Relief, a nonprofit founded by the couple’s 14-year-old daughter, Kristina. Kids’ Care Disaster Relief is dedicated to helping those in crises and has helped mobilize donations and fundraisers for a variety of causes since 2018, from the California wildfires to Hurricane Dorian.
For more information, visit www.SanibelIslandCow.com or call 239-848-5533.