Calif. School Donates Nearly 2K N95 Masks, Leaving One Doctor 'Almost in Tears'
"If we can make even a small impact on organizations that make a difference in this world... then it’s a win-win," Mark Shpall says
When Mark Shpall discovered more than 1,000 forgotten N95 masks on his California high school’s campus, he didn’t think twice about turning them over to those who needed them most amid a nation-wide shortage.
Shpall, the head of school at de Toledo High School in West Hills, knew that local doctors were in dire need amid the coronavirus outbreak, and within hours had delivered approximately 1,300 masks to Woodland Hills Medical Center, and another 700 masks to the local West Hills Los Angeles Police Department.
“This is a crazy time and situation and we are all in this together,” he tells PEOPLE. “The more we can all be kind and helpful, the better we’re all going to be.”
The school initially bought the masks for “future emergencies” last fall as wildfires ravaged Los Angeles, though they were eventually packed away in storage sheds and all but forgotten.
De Toledo’s business manager David Marcus discovered the boxes on Thursday as he and the school’s maintenance and security staff did a little spring cleaning while the students are at home taking lessons remotely, Shpall says.
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Within three hours, Shpall was in contact with his brother, a physician at Woodland Hills, who in turn put him in touch with the hospital’s medical director.
“I was actually going in to give platelets because I know those are also in need, and as soon as I came out, they had them already and I was able to pick them up and deliver them,” he says. “It was four pretty big boxes of stuff.”
He adds, “It was really sweet. One of the physicians who was there to help was almost in tears. I didn’t realize how important this was to them and it was really humbling to see that we were able to make some small, little difference for the hospitals.”
Shpall says his area hasn’t been hit by coronavirus any harder than other areas, but that the hospital is gearing up should things get worse, and taking precautions to minimize risk and exposure.
The hospital’s medical director Greg Kelman expressed gratitude for the masks in an email to Shpall shared with PEOPLE, calling them a “life-saving gift.”
The West Hills Police Department also received a shipment of around 700 masks, as Shpall says they “really look after us very nicely when we have issues.”
Meanwhile, Shpall also plans to donate 10 cases of toilet paper, nine cases of paper towels, five cases of hand sanitizer and eight cases of Clorox wipes to Beit T’Shuvah, a local Jewish addiction center that put out a plea for additional cleaning supplies.
“There’s so little we can do right now as we’re stuck in our homes,” he says. “Our goal is to raise A+ human beings… and if there’s any little ways that we can model that for our students and our community… If we can make even a small impact on organizations that make a difference in this world — the police, the hospitals, the rehab centers — then it’s a win-win.”
The thoughtful donations come as many hospitals experience a shortage of protective gear while coronavirus spreads throughout the nation.
As of Friday afternoon, at least 15,650 people have tested positive for coronavirus, while 202 people have died, according to the New York Times. In California, there were at least 1,057 cases and 19 deaths, the Times reported.
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