A truck-full of donated items for area nonprofits were dropped off at the United Way of Greater Nashua office Friday morning, following a successful collection drive run by the Division of Public Works earlier in the week.
For a few hours each day, from Monday through Wednesday, the city collected various items during its personal protective equipment drive, which took in items needed during the coronavirus outbreak. The drive was set up at 9 Stadium Drive in Nashua, and the PPE and cleaning supplies the city was able to secure are going toward supporting city services, public safety, community partners and local nonprofits in response to the ongoing public health threat.
On Friday, officials gathered together to unload a DPW truck full of collected supplies, including diapers, paper towels and other essentials. While the truck was being unloaded, Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess shared brief remarks about the joint effort involving United Way, many city residents and the DPW.
“I’m so proud of the way Nashua has been stepping up during this crisis,” Donchess said.
Public Relations Administrator Lauren Byers said the collection drive went really well. While the city collected fewer masks than other items, Byers said they did receive a lot of donated gloves from many sources, including beauty parlors and tattoo parlors.
“We got a lot of donations for charities, which is the most available items, such as diapers and wipes,” Byers said. “We had hundreds of packages of wipes, cases of diapers, it was awesome – a lot of toilet paper too, which I was happy to see.”
Over the course of the three-day collection, DPW took in 112 packages of gloves, 80 packages of baby wipes, 84 rolls of paper towels, 180 rolls of toilet paper, 45 packages of disinfectant wipes and more. In addition, the city was able to collect three packages of N95 respirators and 13 packages of face masks.
United Way is coordinating with area nonprofits as their needs arise, immediately disbursing donations to the organizations as they come in. At this point, United way has sent out more than 1,000 rolls of toilet paper to local nonprofits and 20 gallons of hand sanitizer.
Mike Apfelberg, president of the United Way of Greater Nashua, is asking the nonprofits to reach out to them regarding what their needs are, and United Way then puts it out to the community seeking support. United Way also is purchasing items with the funds they have raised.
“A lot of the toilet paper was impossible to get people to donate, but we’ve found a couple places that have been willing to sell us toilet paper at a decent price,” Apfelberg said.
Apfelberg also said that all the nonprofits seem to need hand sanitizer, toilet paper and sanitizing wipes, with a lot of calls for diapers, too.
“All of our nonprofits are really stretched right now for funds, and so we’ve taken up a collection and created a fund to support them,” Apfelberg said. “At this point, I’ve already expended over $10,000 out of that fund to support the immediate needs of our local nonprofits.”
That fund is the Greater Nashua COVID-19 Emergent Needs Response Fund. Apfelberg said the public has been very generous, with $7,000 raised already in public donations. On top of that, corporations and foundations have been supporting the fund. The money is being used to purchase supplies that are being donated as well as providing microgrants to local nonprofits with emergency expenses. A few pages have been set up on the United Way website in terms of donations, both monetary and volunteerism, and also a resource page for people to find information about COVID-19. Those pages can be found at https://unitedwaynashua.org.
“I love Nashua,” Apfelberg said. “I’ve lived here for a long time. I raised my daughter here in Nashua. I have had a strong reaffirmation of my feelings for the community. The community has come together in a way that really makes me very proud to call myself a Nashuan.”
This article was originally published in the Nashua Telegraphy by ADAM URQUHART.