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Colvin Cleaners Vice President Christopher Billoni, left, and President/CEO Paul Billoni in front of their store on Elmwood Avenue in Kenmore.
Colvin Cleaners Vice President Christopher Billoni, left, and President/CEO Paul Billoni in front of their store on Elmwood Avenue in Kenmore.

Colvin Cleaners creates COVID-19 face mask program for WNY customers & nonprofits

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Fri, Apr 17th 2020 01:50 pm

As NYS guidelines mandate face masks for essential workers, Colvin Cleaners designs ‘Get a Mask, Give a Mask’ program

Stepping into action when needed is part of the Colvin Cleaners mission to help the Western New York community. Now, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Billoni family, owners of Colvin Cleaners, has created an innovative program to provide free, reusable, washable face masks for customers and local nonprofit agencies – including nursing and group homes, which need them most.

Colvin Cleaners initially had to lay off most of its tailors and seamstresses, but now they’re back and making protective face masks. Additionally, other volunteers who usually donate their time and skills to the Colvin Cleaners’ “Gowns for Prom” program, which was cancelled due to COVID-19, have volunteered to sew masks. The tailors, seamstresses and volunteers receive materials and instructions from the Colvin Cleaners’ management team. From there, they can create hundreds of masks.

Colvin Cleaners is giving away these washable, reusable face masks for free to their customers and nonprofit agencies in WNY.

“We want our customers and their families to feel safe, along with those on the front lines in many nursing and group homes and other nonprofit agencies,” said Paul Billoni, president and CEO of Colvin Cleaners.

The Colvin Cleaners store at 2375 Elmwood Ave., Kenmore, is open, but staffers are encouraging all customers to use the free, no-touch, pick-up and delivery service to obtain their free masks, as well as their regular dry cleaning and laundry orders. Customers or new customers can sign up for this service at www.colvincleaners.com.

While the reusable masks will be given away to customers and nonprofit agencies for free, Colvin Cleaners is accepting monetary donations online to help fund the purchase of additional materials for more face masks. It is the Billoni family’s hope that this “Get a Mask, Give a Mask” program will help essential workers and families in WNY stay safe during COVID-19.

Customers and nonprofit agencies can order their reusable, washable face masks at www.colvincleaners.com/masks.

See also >> Cuomo issues executive order requiring all people in New York to wear masks or face coverings in public

Though Colvin Cleaners is an essential business, it’s been far from business as usual. For the first time in the family-owned company’s 89-year history, employees had to be laid off due to low volume.

“It was one of the worst moments in my career,” Paul Billoni said. “Laying off good people is something I never thought we would have to do. I’m glad our customers are staying home and staying safe, but unfortunately that has resulted in fewer items for us to clean.”

Colvin Cleaners has always given back to the community through its “Coats 4 Kids” and “Gowns for Prom” programs. In addition, customers can donate suits and work clothes for veterans, and Colvin Cleaners provides free cleaning and alterations of those items.

During these difficult times, Colvin Cleaners continues to give back.

“When times are tough, people show their true colors. Unfortunately, we had to postpone and possibly cancel our ‘Gowns for Prom’ giveaway this year, so we were thinking, ‘What else can we do for our community during this COVID-19 pandemic?’ ” Vice President Christopher Billoni said. “Now, with the ‘Get a Mask, Give a Mask’ program, our family and Colvin Cleaners team have found another way help the WNY community during this time of crisis."

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