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Mask Giveaway Spreads To Other States

What started out as a North Loop businessman’s effort to help first responders in his neighborhood has now spread to several other states—and brought in enough donations to buy thousands more masks and other protective gear.

Reza with KN95 mask (L) and another type of mask that will soon arrive.

In late March, Reza Aghelnejad used his business connections in Asia—and his own money—to buy 2,000 protective masks which are in short supply and high demand in the US right now. He put out the word that he would give away those masks for free to healthcare workers and first responders, while also allowing the general public to buy some with a minimum donation of $30. 

Now, because of the donations that have poured in—even from medical staff who were supposed to simply take them for free—he was able to order 4,500 more of the KN95 protective masks, 1,000 face masks that are more breathable and better suited for the general public, 2,000 gloves and 100 full body protective suits. He said that shipment is waiting to clear Customs in China and should arrive here in about a week. All of these items, he said, will be given away for free to first responders as he again takes donations to buy another shipment in the coming weeks.

MN man who picked up masks for his sister who’s a MICU nurse in the Bronx and was having to reuse the same mask.

“We are not making any money off of this,” said his wife, Kerry LaBrie. “This is not for profit.”

Aghelnejad said as a businessman with established connections in Asia, where most of the masks are made, he doesn’t face some of the regulatory paperwork and other obstacles that slow down orders placed by the government.

“I have people in Asia I can trust,” he said, “and I know if I send them money they’re actually going to send me the products that meet my standards.”

While he said some of the masks in the first shipment have gone to Allina, Mercy and Methodist Hospitals as well as first responders and other neighbors in the North Loop, dozens of masks have also gone to first responders in North Dakota, Texas, Connecticut and New York who heard about his effort through social media.

MN healthcare worker who said he and his colleagues were issued one mask by their employer and told to “treat it like gold.”

The protective gear is being distributed through LaBrie’s business, The Glam Garage, across the street from Bar La Grassa at 801 North Washington, Unit 114. To arrange a pickup or make a donation, you can contact [email protected] or 952-297-6841. 

By Mike Binkley, North Loop Neighborhood Association


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