In less than four days, Blaine County residents collected more than 200 ski goggles for healthcare workers, first responders and essential service workers who may be in need of protection.
The goggle collection is part of a nationwide initiative that began less than two weeks ago when the manager of a ski resort in Massachusetts, Jon Schaefer, decided to start a crowdsourcing collection system for goggle donations to hospitals and healthcare workers in need of protective equipment. The idea sprouted after a New York City doctor put the word out, begging for eye protection for his co-workers on the frontlines of a pandemic.
The initiative, dubbed “Goggles for Docs,” had donated 22,448 goggles to hospitals around the country as of Thursday morning. According to Melissa Gullotti, a spokeswoman for the newly formed nonprofit, goggles may also go to first-responder agencies and other essential workers by request.
In the Wood River Valley, the donation drive began Monday morning, with a drop-off location at the Brass Ranch at River Run Lodge set up by Sun Valley employee Stacey Ehleringer. By Tuesday, a second drop-off location had been added at Albertsons in Hailey by Sarah Uhlenhopp.
“We are so grateful and touched by the outpouring of the community who want to help healthcare workers and first responders,” St. Luke’s Wood River Public Relations Manager Joy Prudek said Wednesday.
Prudek said the hospital will be evaluating the best use of the donated goggles to ensure they are going to wherever the need is. St. Luke’s still has a steady supply of personal protective equipment, Prudek said, and currently there is no shortage of face masks for hospital employees.
However, a separate donation drive collecting medical equipment for first responders, law enforcement agencies and essential service workers like pharmacists, physical therapists, grocery employees has been running since March 26, and some of the goggles may go to that effort.
“We’re excited to be a part of such a program that the community wanted to participate in,” Prudek said.
As of Thursday morning, more than 200 ski goggles had been collected, Uhlenhopp said.
Currently, the organization is taking new and used goggles, and asks that the following procedure be used for dropping off donations:
Always practice social distancing.
All gear should be wiped down and placed in a sealed, ziplock bag prior to placing in a drop-off receptacle.
When gear arrives at the medical facility or location where it will be used, it will be disinfected according to each facility’s protocol.
Uhlenhopp said the Brass Ranch drop-off location is open 24 hours a day and the Albertsons location is open during the grocery store’s business hours, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. The donation bins will remain available so long as the need for goggles continues. Surplus goggles here will be shipped to other hospitals or frontline workers across the nation. Visit googlesfordocs.com to see a live list of hospitals around the U.S. with requests being filled in live time.