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10 unlikely sources of PPE donations

Police departments are receiving much-needed PPE donations from surprising places


Examples of some of the personal protective equipment being provided to first responders during the new coronavirus pandemic are displayed during a news conference, Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in Chicago.

Tyler LaRiviere/Chicago Sun-Times via AP, Pool

One of the biggest challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic thus far has been the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for cops and others on the front lines of the outbreak.

As local, state and federal leaders work to rectify the issue, PPE is being donated from a number of sources to try to fill in the gaps. While some, such as vendors in the law enforcement sector, are obvious, others are less so. Here are some unique sources of PPE for law enforcement.

1. Schools

From universities to high schools and elementary schools, many educational institutions are providing police departments with masks and other PPE from their nursing stations, labs and other facilities.

“We had upwards of 500 masks in nursing stations and we didn’t want them to sit idle,” Jeff Granatino, Marshfield (Mass.) Public Schools superintendent, told The Patriot Ledger. “I hope it helps a little bit.”

2. Dental offices

Some PDs are getting surgical masks from their local dental offices, many of which have limited their operations or suspended them entirely during the crisis and have supplies on hand that are going unused.

3. Paint stores

Paint stores also commonly carry masks and are stepping up for law enforcement and other first responders.

“We went digging through the basement. Found some more cases of a couple thousand masks. Rather than put ‘em up for sale, I figured the first responders would probably need ‘em,” Ron Amburgey, who runs a paint store in Cleveland, told Fox 8.

4. Construction companies

Construction companies are an excellent source of much of the gear first responders need during the pandemic.

Kevin Wilson, a health and safety officer at a roofing company that donated supplies to police in New Mexico, urged other construction businesses to follow suit.

“All construction companies will have this kind of personal protective equipment,” Wilson told the Santa Fe Reporter.

5. Facebook

Police departments are receiving donations of PPE as part of a massive effort from the company to provide equipment they had originally stockpiled for California wildfires.

6. Auto repair companies

One auto repair shop in Georgia that supplied N95s to their local PD and other first responders started the #N95Challenge on social media to challenge other auto shops to do the same.

“In my inventory, every mask I had was an N95 mask,” shop owner Art Harris told Fender Bender. “It’s pretty common in our industry.”

7. Resorts and casinos

In Las Vegas, casinos and resorts have given thousands of masks and gloves, as well as hundreds of cases of hand sanitizer, to first responders.

“Our support will only continue to rise as we identify new ways to fill financial and supply chain gaps in our home communities,” Wynn CEO Matt Maddox said in a statement.

8. Home improvement stores

Home improvement stores like Home Depot have also stepped up to provide cops and healthcare workers with respirators and other vital equipment, with Home Depot ceasing all sales of masks to the public in order to donate them to frontline workers.

9. Beauty stores

Beauty stores, nail salons and spas often have supplies like gloves and rubbing alcohol on hand.

In Mobile, Alabama, a number of local stores came together to pool their supplies for first responders.

10. 3D printers

Citizens with 3D printers at home are doing their part to alleviate PPE supply issues. One group of hobbyists provided 150 masks to the Green Bay PD in Wisconsin.

Police in Utah have even called for those with 3D printers to lend a helping hand.

Does your agency have enough PPE for officers? Have you had to access outside resources for masks and gloves? Email your front-line experience to

Cole Zercoe previously served as Senior Associate Editor of Lexipol’s and His award-winning features focus on the complexity of policing in the modern world.

Contact Cole Zercoe