Edmonton company donates 10,000 single-use masks to Bissell Centre
EDMONTON -- The Bissell Centre received a large donation of single-use masks from a man just hoping to make a small difference for those in need.
Last month, Omar Hajar's medical supply company was targeted by a porch pirate, they stole boxes of surgical caps from his front step. But he hasn't let that experience deter him from helping out those in the inner city, where PPE is greatly needed.
"With masks becoming mandatory, there's a lot of people out there that unfortunately can't afford the medical supplies," said Hajar.
Hajar says his company normally sells boxes of masks, but decided to give back to the community Wednesday by donating some of his supply.
"Just over 10,000 masks right now, they come up, no questions asked, we give them five masks…just to stop the spread of COVID-19," said Hajar.
Many in Edmonton's homeless community don't have easy access to soap and water, let alone sanitary face coverings. For some with poor health, that can put them at even greater risk. The Bissell Centre says its clients have been very aware and concerned about COVID-19, and the need for mandatory face coverings to gain entry to social service agencies.
"As much as they're enforcing them, how are our folks down here... how are they supposed to get a supply of masks? And so being able to give them away today is a really special thing," said Scarlet Bjornson with the Bissell Centre.
Linda Kozak took advantage of the offer; she doesn't think they'll last long.
"You walk down the street and you'll see people with their masks on; people are really trying to do what they think they should to make things better," said Kozak.
Staff at the Bissell Centre say considering how many people at the centre have health concerns, specifically compromised immune systems, they've been lucky with the number of infections.
"As far as our numbers go, we don't have any positive cases of COVID-19 here down in our community, so we're hoping that stays," said Bjornson.
Bjornson says that the efforts of staff at the Bissell Centre and a high compliance rate of mask wearing are factors in their success.
All masks that weren't handed out by Hajar Wednesday are for the Bissell Centre's for future use.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's David Ewasuk.