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How the Rekindle of a Friendship Led to a Charity That Helps Healthcare Workers Across the Country

Written By: Taylor Gorski
Photographed By: Frontline Donations PPE Equipment Donations 

What happened when sisters Gina-Maria and Alexandra Garcia reconnected with Alexandra’s childhood best friend Kori Johnston over an Instagram DM? An entire charity drive dedicated to serving nurses and doctors on the frontline was born. 

“It’s been over 20 years since we saw Kori,” Gina-Maria explains, “My sister follows Kori on Instagram and they’ve kept in touch over the years. Kori is a nurse at a local hospital and she was posting on Instagram to please stay home, as she was only using one mask per shift––when you’re supposed to use one N91 mask per patient. She posted how between each shift they’d hang their gowns and spray them with Lysol because there just weren’t enough gowns.” Gina-Maria and Alexandra thought to themselves how scary that was and the fact that it was happening just miles from their house. Alexandra explains, “From then, my entrepreneurial drive kicked in. I felt restless; I needed to contribute in some way and didn’t know how. It quickly evolved into a partnership with Goldsheep Clothing to create mask covers to preserve the PPE mask underneath.” Frontline Donations was created to get PPE (personal protective equipment) to healthcare workers in need.

The girls realized Goldsheep Clothing could produce the masks, and then they could facilitate getting the materials from point A to point B. The Goldsheep masks can be put over the PPE mask and allow it to be worn multiple times. They’ve since sent out 4,000 mask covers across the country. 

Alexandra, Gina-Maria and Kori split the responsibilities of their charity Frontline Donations based on their personal strengths. Alexandra works on the technical operations, Kori is on the frontline and has connections to different health care workers, and Gina-Maria is the CMO working on all marketing and storytelling efforts. While Alexandra, Gina-Maria and Kori are the cofounders, they have two volunteers who are a part of their official team. Elizabeth Kumamoto is their Donation Coordinator and has been a vital role in sourcing PPE and picking up homemade mask donations. Rachel Kahn is their Business Outreach Coordinator who has been reaching out to different businesses. The girls have an executive team meeting once a week to go over projects.

Frontline Donations now has 54 volunteers. Alexandra says, “It’s been incredible to see 54 people that we have never met personally reach out just by finding us online. People have wanted to support us in any which way we can.” Included in packages to healthcare workers are handwritten thank you notes. Every Saturday, the team has a socially distanced assembly line of four to six people (Gina-Maria explains it as a relay race) to source the materials and put together the packages. “Our immediate reaction to this PPE shortage is that we can rally up our community who already have these supplies…construction sites, nail salons, hair salons, reaching out to local businesses and asking if they are willing to donate PPE items,” the girls explain. 

“The idea at first was sourcing PPE that was already out there, but we realized it’s also something that could be purchased. So we started a GoFundMe; we are $100 away from $10,000 in donations,” explains Gina-Maria. The team received 1,000 N95 masks yesterday and they’ll be packaging and sending the masks out this weekend. Some hospitals are really prepared and some aren’t at all, Kori informed the team. Frontline Donations has been sending PPE materials all over the country––New York, Hawaii, Louisiana, even Canada. 

The community has been creative in helping out the cause. “This woman, Kate, held a Zoom workout class and had a $5 entry fee, but all proceeds went straight to our cause and she ended up donating $150 to our GoFundMe page!” says Gina-Maria, “If you don’t have the cash to donate, just putting it on social media is volunteering in my eyes.” A volunteer, a USC alum, approached Frontline Donations about manufacturing PPE masks using 3D printers and making 13 masks a day. “It’s such an innovative and creative solution,” says Alexandra. They are now looking to mobilize those in the community who have 3D printers to help produce masks at home. 

“Essentially what we’re doing is responding to a very serious need. This is a time that has been really tough on everybody. I think our overarching goal is just to make sure that everyone on the frontlines feels the love and admiration the community has for them,” the girls explain. With a mission, hardwork and the help of the community, that’s exactly what Frontline Donations is achieving. “We think it’s important we lead with science and continue our part in spreading awareness that there is a severe shortage that is preventing the healthcare workers to do their job to their best ability. Any little act of kindness is our ultimate goal,” they explain. Frontline Donations is committed to uniting the community and allowing us to realize we’re all in this together.

To donate, volunteer or learn more about their efforts, see the below links. PPE Equipment Donations 
Official Website
Official Instagram
Official Facebook Page
Official GoFundMe Page
How to Get Involved
To donate or volunteer, email Frontline Donations at info@frontlinedonations.com