Donation drive at United Center seeks personal protective equipment

Giordano’s — think pizza — made a donation of 240 face masks Tuesday morning. Drop-offs from individuals, as well as companies and other groups, are being accepted.

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Rod Wetmore, director of manufacturing at Giordano’s, donates more than 200 respirator face masks at the United Center.

Rod Wetmore, director of manufacturing at Giordano’s, donates more than 200 respirator face masks at the United Center. The drive was organized by the city of Chicago and Team Rubicon.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

A few weeks ago, before extra-protective N95 face masks became hard to find, Giordano’s — think pizza —bought 240 for employees whomake sauce and dough at the company’s facility in Mount Prospect.

“We realized we didn’t need that kind of firepower and got our workers different masks, so then we were just sitting on them and itdidn’t make any sense when there was such a need for people on the frontlines,” said Rod Wetmore, who heads up the plant.

On Tuesday morning, Wetmore dropped off the masks at the United Center, where donations of personal protective equipment are being accepted through Friday.

“I talked to Giordano’s president, Brent Johnson, and our CEO, Yorgo Koutsogiorgas, and they said ‘Definitely, donate the masks.’ We just wish it could have been more,” Wetmore said.

Kazimieras Urbonavicius, a volunteer with Team Rubicon, shows off a box of more than 200 respirator face masks donated by Giordano’s at the personal protective equipment (PPE) donation drive at the United Center, during the coronavirus pandemic, Tuesday morning, April 14, 2020.

Kazimieras Urbonavicius, a volunteer with Team Rubicon, shows off a box of more than 200 respirator face masks donated by Giordano’s at the personal protective equipment (PPE) donation drive at the United Center, during the coronavirus pandemic, Tuesday morning, April 14, 2020.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Donations will be distributed beginning next week at a number of places, including localhospitals, nursing homes and homeless shelters. They will also be given to essential municipalworkers.

Drop-offs can be made from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Friday at the United Center’s East Atrium, 16 S. Wood St., Lot H.

The donation drive is organized by Team Rubicon USA, a nonprofit group started by U.S. military veterans that provides humanitarian services around the country after natural disasters.

Team Rubicon spokeswoman Ashley Slover said Tuesday that anyone wishing to donate should first visit chi.gov/donatePPE to review donation guidelines, directions and a list of neededitems.

The list includessterile gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, face shields and masks.

“Everything should be unopened and unused,” Slover said.

Donations from individuals as well as groups and companies are being encouraged, she said.

On Tuesday, eight donations of gloves and masks had been made by 3 p.m. — three of those were individuals and five were corporations.

On Monday, the first day of the donation drive, Tito’s Handmade Vodka made a donation.

“They did not donate vodka, they donated hand sanitizer,” Slover said.

Team Rubicon volunteers chat with a woman at the personal protective equipment (PPE) donation drive at the United Center during the coronavirus pandemic, Tuesday morning, April 14, 2020.

Team Rubicon volunteers chat with a woman at the personal protective equipment (PPE) donation drive at the United Center during the coronavirus pandemic, Tuesday morning, April 14, 2020.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

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