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Sustainable activewear company Dhvani, which is known for joining social and political causes, has announced its goal to give one free mask to every American in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The company has even advertised this ambitious initiative in a patriotic-themed red, white and blue billboard in New York’s Times Square with the words, “A Mask for Every American.”
Below the striking image is a link where passersby can request a free face mask or donate money to support Dhvani’s cause. However, it is not clear how many people will see the well-intentioned ad while tourism is down and millions of New Yorkers are remaining at home.
“We hope nobody sees it because they’re sheltering in place, but if they do, we want them to get in touch and ask for a mask, or make a donation,” said Dhvani co-founder and CEO Avi Brown in a company statement Tuesday. "Unprecedented times require unprecedented action. It's up to all of us to put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the help of donations from the public, we're using our manufacturing and distribution resources to put a mask on every face in America."
Where the billboard leaves off is where Dhvani’s digital fundraising campaign begins. On dhvani.com/FreeMasks, visitors are welcomed to a three-minute, 17-second video highlighting recipients of the mask donation program and the company’s overall goal to give away 327 million masks to American residents.
Dhvani is giving medical-grade masks to health care professionals at the front line and reusable cloth masks to the general public, which aligns with the recommendations the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put forth in recent weeks.
“Every day is Earth Day at DHVANI. One-in-four COVID-19 deaths have been in America, yet Americans make up only 4.3 percent of the world's population. This has to stop now. The goal of DHVANI's ‘A Mask for Every American’ project is to put a mask on every face in the United States, so we can stop the spread of the virus and get back to work,” Brown told FOX Business on Wednesday via email. “DHVANI will not stop until we have achieved this goal.”
“I am hereby challenging Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerberg, and anyone else who can help, to donate at DHVANI.com/FreeMasks, so we can get all 327 million people in America the protective masks they need,” he added.
The campaign started when Dhvani’s co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Kanayochukwu Onwuama realized his mother, who is a registered nurse, was in need of personal protective equipment at the hospital she works at.
"When my mom told me she'd been using the same disposable mask for a whole week, my stomach dropped, and I couldn't help but cry," said Onwuama in a company statement Tuesday. "I immediately knew I had to do something."
Most notably, Dhvani has donated 10,000 medical-grade masks to the Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon – the same city where the activewear brand is based.
"Providence is grateful for Dhvani's mask donation… Every caregiver in a patient care area, no matter what their role, wears a mask for their shift," said Nancy Roberts, the COO of the Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. “Donations from local organizations like Dhvani help us ensure that we continue to have masks to protect our patients, their families, and our caregivers. We are truly amazed by the generosity of individuals and businesses in Oregon."
The company has also given 1,000 face masks to essential workers, including grocery store employees. Dhvani is preparing its next 10,000 medical-grade mask donation to the Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York.
To get a free mask from Dhvani shipped to your house, all you need to do is answer a quick, six-step questionnaire. Alternatively, the company is accepting monetary donations on GoFundMe, which has made over $13,600 so far.