Bella’s Sicilian Ristorante donated $500 to purchase kits, produced by Hallagan Fine Furniture of Newark, NY, for a community sewing project that creates masks for healthcare workers. Hallagan began creating the kits, four weeks ago, when their factory shut down due to the Coronavirus social distancing mandates. They re-tooled their manufacturing, resources and talent to help address the need to keep healthcare staff protected and their communities healthy.
Eileen Cooley, who is coordinating the mask production, has assembled an ‘army’ of sewers, and has reached out to her friends and church community for monetary donations to purchase the kits. Eileen made an initial donation to launch the project to benefit Finger Lakes Health, and several others have stepped up to help fund the cost of the kits.
Richard Austin, co-owner of Bella’s, reached out to Cooley when he learned of the project. Austin has several connections with and was drawn to the cause, as he grew up in Newark and knows the Hallagan family, personally. In addition, he has lived, worked and raised his family in Geneva for the past 20 years and is a generous supporter of many local organizations, including Geneva General Hospital.
The kits are $.55 each, which covers the cost of materials. The masks are different from cloth ones, as they are made of non-woven material – spunbond polypropylene, which repels moisture. Bella’s lead donation, along with several others, will help produce more than 2500 masks for Finger Lakes Health.
Lara Turbide, VP, Community Services & Executive Director, Finger Lakes Health Foundation expressed her thanks to Austin saying, “This is so generous of you and Bella’s. It is a great story of your connection to the Hallagans and your philanthropy in Geneva. We truly are grateful for this collaboration between Eileen Cooley, the sewers, Hallagan, Bella’s and all the donors who are making these masks possible for our community. Thank you, on behalf of all the patients and FLH staff who will benefit.”
As of today, more than 25,000 Hallagan masks have been sewn by more than 150 volunteers to support healthcare facilities and first responders in several New York counties.