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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 teaching WNY to make face masks

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Thu, Apr 23rd 2020 09:25 am

As NYS guidelines mandate face masks for everyone, Colvin Cleaners’ ‘Get a Mask, Give a Mask’ program helps individuals, nonprofits, businesses

A week ago, The Billoni family and Colvin Cleaners announced they were bringing back their tailors and seamstresses who were laid off due to COVID-19 to make reusable, washable face masks for their customers and local nonprofit agencies. Within an hour of this announcement, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced everyone in New York is required to wear a facemask when out in public.

Subsequently, Colvin Cleaners received over 20,000 requests for face masks in just a few days.

Colvin Cleaners now has over 35 tailors and seamstresses working from home to make face masks. 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 face masks. Napoli’s Clothing & Shoes for Men have added its seamstresses to this program, as well. The tailors, seamstresses and volunteers receive pre-cut fabric and elastic along with an instructional video from Colvin Cleaners.

“We are picking up finished face masks and dropping off more fabric and elastic to over 35 homes,” explained Colvin Cleaners Vice President Christopher Billoni. “It’s a lot to manage, but we’re able to help so many people during these unprecedented times.”

The phones and emails at Colvin Cleaners have also been inundated with hundreds of requests from businesses and nonprofits looking for masks for its employees. Rather than make organizations wait weeks for Colvin Cleaners to produce the masks, Colvin Cleaners will provide the pre-cut fabric and elastic along with its instructional video, and the organization can make its own masks.

“We’ve found there are at least a few people in every organization that know how to sew. Most people have extra time on their hands right now, so we can provide the supplies and the instructions and businesses are able to make their own face masks instead of waiting on us,” Colvin Cleaners President and CEO Paul Billoni said.

Colvin Cleaners has already been able to help over 40 nonprofits, including People Inc., Catholic Charities, and the Erie County Department of Public Works. Businesses and nonprofits can engage with their staff or families and provide them with these tools to make their own facemasks.

The Billoni family has found every organization has a database of volunteers willing to help.

Those who need a face mask can place an order online at www.colvincleaners.com/masks. Orders must be placed online and will not be accepted over the phone. Colvin Cleaners pick-up and delivery service customers will have their face masks delivered to their home. Everyone else will receive a text or email when their masks are available to pick up at Colvin Cleaners.

Nonprofits can email their face masks orders to [email protected]. They have the option to wait in line and have Colvin Cleaners and its team of tailors and seamstresses make the facemasks, or Colvin Cleaners will provide the pre-cut fabric and elastic along with an instructional video, so the nonprofit can make its own facemasks and not have to wait as long.

Businesses may purchase bulk orders of face masks by emailing [email protected]. Colvin Cleaners will sell the face coverings at $5 per mask, or $2 per mask if the business would like to purchase the pre-cut fabric and elastic along with an instructional video to make its own facemasks.

This “Get a Mask, Give a Mask” program is designed to help thousands of people across Western New York stay safe and follow the executive order signed by the governor.

Donations to help cover the cost of materials and supplies are accepted online at https://www.colvincleaners.com/masks.

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