By Lasca Randels
WARSAW—Two local men are taking steps to help keep our community safe during the COVID-29 pandemic.
Scott Michael Clay and David Barfell, both of Warsaw, have started a fundraising campaign to purchase KN95 masks that will be distributed to essential workers and to the general public at different locations around Warsaw.
They handed out 50 free masks Friday, April 17, at The Lab on Center Street in Warsaw and plan to return Monday to give out more.
Barfell and Clay met in 2018 when they were neighbors and have kept in touch since that time.
Clay, a member of the Warsaw Breakfast Optimist Club, owns Bargain Hunters Paradise in Elkhart. Barfell is the owner of Wolf Weld Cleaners on North Lake Street in Warsaw.
“We’re both home from work during this pandemic and didn’t want to miss an opportunity to help others and slow the spread,” said Clay.
Although Clay and Barfell are the ones doing the fundraising, they’ve had some help.
“David’s mother, Debbie Evans, has purchased and donated masks herself and Mitch Foltz of Foltz Family Heating and Cooling has been donating his time and materials making head straps for the masks,” Clay said.
As of Thursday, April 16, $2,015 had been raised and roughly 1,300 masks had been donated. The men set an initial goal of $20,000 but said they will raise the ceiling if that goal is reached.
“Before launching this campaign, we personally bought and distributed 1,000 masks in Warsaw,” Clay said. “Twenty thousand dollars will enable us to import and distribute 10,000+ masks.”
Clay said masks have been donated to Kosciusko Community Senior Services, Cardinal Services, Inc., Kosciusko Home Care and Hospice, The Beaman Home, The Bowen Center and One Warsaw.
“While we were dropping off masks at KCSS, the executive director, David Neff, mentioned that the Retired Tigers may need help as well. He called them up and we provided 90 masks to cover all 81 residents,” Clay said.
Neff described Clay and Barfell as “two great kids doing something helpful in our community.” Neff said he was approached by Clay, who asked if KCSS needed masks.
“My staff does not have the KN95 masks and only had dust masks. I told him we could use some and our volunteers who deliver meals could use some,” Neff said. “My volunteers are starting to get a little nervous about delivering meals with what is going on, so this will help us retain volunteers. The masks, along with the stop and drop system we have implemented, allow seniors to get their vital meal every day.”
Glenn Hall, executive director of Kosciusko Home Care & Hospice, said they, along with all healthcare organizations, have found it challenging to acquire necessary supplies and personal protective equipment for their staff.
“Our staff cares for a high risk population of seniors or those who are compromised by other health issues,” Hall said. “We recently were very fortunate to have these two young men donate a critical supply of N95 masks for our staff. We are so grateful for their generosity and for thinking of our staff.”
Clay said the nonprofit organizations they’ve donated masks to have been “grateful, excited and relieved.”
“They’ve all only asked for what they need to ensure we could help multiple organizations,” Clay said. “Everyone wants to work together to get through this.”
Clay said they plan to continue the fundraiser through April but will extend it if necessary.
When asked why it’s important for the men to do something like this for our community, Clay replied, “Simple — David and I are here to stay. We love living in Warsaw and want to contribute to Warsaw and Kosciusko County’s success.”
Anyone who would like to help may do so by making a donation.
“Donate anything you’re able to, even just $2,” Clay said. “The more donations, no matter the size, helps slow the spread.