CCUSA provides masks, protective equipment to Catholic Charities agencies

May 6, 2020

Kim Burgo, vice president for disaster services at Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), wasn’t surprised to hear where she could get much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for Catholic Charities staff responding to the COVID-19 pandemic around the country. But the story behind the source was a nice surprise.

In mid-April 2020 Burgo and other leaders of national disaster service organizations had a conference call during which Kevin King, executive director for Mennonite Disaster Services (MDS), talked about how the Mennonite and Amish communities near Sugarcreek, Ohio, were responding to the pandemic.

Burgo had worked with King before. CCUSA and MDS have joined together in helping communities rebuild after many disasters. CCUSA provides basic necessities and case management services, and MDS either repairs or rebuilds homes.

On the conference call, King mentioned how the pandemic had affected the Sugarcreek area. The Amish community stopped making furniture because there were no buyers and communities were asked to shut down. So the Amish started making masks for local hospitals. News of their efforts spread and requests for more masks multiplied.

“One family led to two families, to five, then the whole Amish community started making masks, and then it spread to the Mennonites and even to communities outside of Ohio,” Burgo said. “Now Amish and Mennonite communities from Ohio to the East Coast are making 20,000 masks a day.”

Burgo ordered 4,000 masks at $2.50 each from the Ohio group, but did not have the budget for more. The Mennonites offered 4,000 masks for free, and a coalition of church groups in Harrisonburg, Va., provided 2,000 more.

CCUSA has already sent 40,000 disposable masks to Catholic Charities agencies around the United States. The 10,000 masks from the church groups will be included in PPE kits being sent to more agencies. Each kit contains 300 reusable masks, 300 disposable masks and 300 pairs of latex gloves.

“The Amish and Mennonite communities are such great partners and really generous people,” Burgo said. “It’s no surprise they have worked so hard to help others, but it’s also a really great story to share during this difficult time.”

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