Spotlight: Unmasking Kindness

Sarah Tobing drops off kn95 masks to UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville with Abby Andring.

With so much upheaval going on, we wanted to highlight a little heroism from our friends in Gainesville, which has us inspired to embark on our own acts of kindness.

Local resident Sarah Tobing knew from her nurse friends that hospitals were low on masks. With help from a couple of friends, Sarah and her husband David Borenstein organized a bulk order for 5000 kn95 masks to come from China for Florida’s frontline workers.

Leveraging Connections for Locals 

“He has a friend of a friend who works in China doing medical supply distribution,” Tobing said. “And we’d heard from a friend of ours that works at a hospital here that they didn’t have enough masks for people working in the hospital. And so we just started the GoFundMe.”

People donated to the Florida Frontline Medical Workers Mask Fund from Zambia, Denmark, Canada, England and Gainesville, including local homebrew club Hogtown Brewers and First Magnitude Brewing, which sold koozies at a covid fundraiser and donated over $1,700 dollars to the mask fund, she said.

“We were feeling, at the beginning, like shocked and powerless to all the things that were happening,” she said. “It all just seemed to happen so fast so we just wanted to make this somewhat random connection that David had in China into something positive for the community in Gainesville. And we also got a grant for $1,000 from the Awesome Foundation.”

The international seed organization’s local sector Awesome Gainesville chose Sarah and David’s mask project for their quarterly grant.

“The first shipment of 2,500 came in and we donated them to Shands,” Tobing said, she said referring to University of Florida Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

The rest will go to a variety of frontline medical workers in North Central Florida.

Donations Still Accepted at Shands 

“We’re wrapping up this campaign, but they’re still taking donations at the Shands distribution center,” she said. “If you have extra Clorox bleach wipes, there’s a list of things that they’re taking that’s on their website.”

Abby Andring, the Integrated Service Center Operations Manager at UF Health, said they are still accepting donations. All info can be found here: https://coronavirus.ufhealth.org/ppe-donations/

“We are requesting community members drop off donations directly at the UF Health Integrated Service Center, located near the Gainesville airport,” Andring said. “This keeps traffic away from the hospital and creates a safe method for our donors.”

Andring said UF Health has received an outpouring of support from the community.

“Donors have been a shining light in our mission to armor clinical staff with PPE,” she said. “There are many amazing people helping us. Donations are directly benefiting front-line staff, and we are grateful for such generosity.”

Spreading Kindness with Coffee

Sarah and David’s amazing act of kindness has inspired us to look for new ways we can help our communities in a space we know well- coffee.

Recently, we encouraged our network to help coffee farmers in Peru as they work to reforest their lands. We collaborated with the non-profit Grow Ahead, in the hopes of supporting the same small-scale farmers who grow and harvest the Peruvian coffee we drink.  (Learn more about that effort on our blog.)

Now, we're looking at other ways we can encourage kindness in the world of coffee.

We'll Call it: "Random Acts of Coffee"

Spread kindness with coffee.  We're calling it "Random Acts of Coffee." 

For the next several weeks, we'll do our best to encourage you to spread kindness with coffee.    

To kick it off, we'll be doing a Random Act of Coffee Giveaway- a swag bag with some cool Sweetwater swag. 

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to get updates on our Random Act of Coffee Giveaway.  And tag us if you do your own Random Act of Coffee.

Later, we'll do some fun things to encourage you to give coffee away yourself- a gesture of kindness in an uncertain world.   

Stay Tuned.