PALM COAST, fla. - During a disaster or emergency situation, volunteers will often gather canned goods, water, and clothing to give to those in need, but COVID-19 is not your usual disaster.
In this case, volunteers in Flagler County are trying to gather things like gloves, masks, and protective gowns; personal protective equipment (PPE).
"It's the only time we've ever collected anything like this,” said Suzy Gamblain, Executive Director of Flagler Volunteer Services, as she organized a table of exam gloves outside of Rymfire Elementary School Wednesday.
Gamblain says her organization regularly coordinates with the county’s Emergency Management and Health Departments, and it’s protective gear that they say is in high demand right now; that they have the most need for locally.
The coronavirus scare has created a nationwide shortage of PPE like protective gloves and face masks.
So on Wednesday morning, Volunteer Services held the first of four drive-through PPE donation drives to help gather some of that equipment for local first responders. The group also held one Wednesday evening and are planning two more Thursday morning and evening.
Pam Cowles, a local parish nurse in the area, stopped by Wednesday with several boxes of supplies donors had given her over the years, but that she never found a need for at the church.
“I had gloves, I had oxygen tubing, I had trach sponges,” said Cowles.
Some dropped off single boxes of gloves or masks they never found a need for; others dropped off extra toilet paper to the volunteers which they weren’t originally looking for, but Gamblain said they were glad to add to the donation list as many are in need of that as well right now.
The volunteers realize most people likely don’t have PPE just sitting in a closet ready to donate; they don’t expect to walk away with the boxes full of donations they usually see at these drives.
However in the midst of this crisis, Gamblain sai anything they can bring their busy doctors, nurses, and first responders will make a difference.
"We don't know what's going to happen with this virus so we just want to make sure that our medical professionals have what they need and if anything runs low we have a pile of it to help out,” she said.
Drop off times are from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on both Wednesday and Thursday. Rymfire Elementary is located at 1425 Rymfire Drive in Palm Coast.