Matthew and Camila McConaughey Donate 80,000 Masks to Coronavirus Frontline Heroes
The McConaugheys personally delivered masks to police and fire stations in Austin on Thursday, and frontline heroes in New Orleans will receive theirs this week
Camila Alves McConaughey and Matthew McConaughey are taking action to help the front line heroes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The couple is working closely with Bethenny Frankel‘s disaster relief initiative BStrong to ensure first responders across the Unites States are getting masks and supplies they need to stay safe throughout this crisis.
“Matt and I were able to get approximately 80,000 masks, and it’s a combination of surgical masks and KN95 masks that will be distributed between Austin and New Orleans, where they were getting hit pretty hard as well,” Camila tells PEOPLE exclusively. “It was important for us to make sure that here in Austin, not just the hospitals got them, but also the police department and the fire department as well. In this moment, we’ve got to find ways to help both sides because they’re all on the front line right now and we can’t afford to lose any of them.”
Camila, 38, and Matthew, 50, went out on Thursday to personally make sure the donated supplies made it to their final destination in Austin, where the pair live with their three children — sons Levi, 11, and Livingston, 7, and daughter Vida, 10.
“We’re doing in-person delivery because I need to know the quality control is there,” says Camila. “We are delivering stuff to the Police Department in Austin, and then the Fire Department and Sheriff’s Department as well. We are making sure the Austin area is covered in that sense and then New Orleans will be getting them in just a few days.”
Declining to disclose the monetary contribution her family made to get the supplies in Austin and New Orleans — where the family lived while Matthew worked on a film — the Women of Today founder says she wants to instead inspire action in others.
“This is not about raising the hand and saying, ‘Hey, I’ve put this much money in it.’ This is about raising the hand and making people aware that this exists,” she says. “It took me over two weeks to find this cause, so it’s about raising the hand and saying, ‘This exists and guess what? Still time to help.’ And if you can’t help with this, find your own avenue where you can help and feel useful during this time.”
BStrong has helped in 15 states and distributed more than 17.5 million masks to date. The initiative plans on supplying more than 200 medical facilities nationwide, and Camila adds it was important for her to take part in something where she could actually see where the supplies were going.
“I spent over two weeks talking to different manufacturers, researching, talking to people in China, talking to manufacturers here in the United States that had turned facilities to producing masks, but for whatever reason, it didn’t give me the level of confidence to make that larger donation with them,” she says. “Then I came across what BStrong is doing and I immediately got in touch with Bethenny. As soon as I got off of that call, I was immediately like, ‘That’s the place that we are going to support,’ because they’re working with things that are ‘FDA approved’ only, they know what they’re doing, the logistics are there, the lawyers are there, they have quality control in place, and they are delivering.”
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“I’ve been talking to chiefs of police, chiefs of the fire department and different government officials, and the challenge that’s happening now is that you place an order but things don’t show up or the wrong things show up,” Camila continues. “It was very clear to me that the work BStrong is doing is happening, it’s the right thing and 100 percent of the money you put into it goes towards getting the items.”
The couple are also continuing to find creative ways to give back. Earlier this month, the McConaugheys hosted a virtual bingo night for a group of senior living home residents. The adorable interaction went viral and Camila says the participants couldn’t have been more grateful.
“This community shared with us that they have all these elders and they’re not allowed to get out of their room or interact with each other because they are very high risk,” she says. “We got right on with them and they were great about helping put it together, and it was just beautiful and sweet and funny and fun. They were so grateful and so happy it broke them out of their routine. They got out of that space that they’re in to do something completely fun and different, and give them a positive boost.”
The McConaugheys have stayed busy while practicing social distancing at home with their family, including Matthew’s mom Mary Kathlene McCabe.
“People are asking me, ‘Oh, what are you binge watching?’ I’m like, I don’t know what y’all are doing, but when you have three kids and you work and everybody’s at home and you have to do everything from the cleaning to the cooking to taking care of the groceries … the day is not long enough,” admits Camila. “We’re in charge of the house, we’re in charge of the cooking, we’re in charge of everything and we’re working at the same time and the kids are doing school. The days go really fast.”
One upside? The kids are learning what it really means to help take care of the house.
“My 7 year old is now an expert on doing laundry, my 11 year old does at least one meal a day, and my daughter is becoming an expert on cleaning windows and vacuuming,” says Camila. “They already knew how to take care of a house on a surface level, but now they’re getting really deep on it. They are very hands on helping us taking care of everything and then we’re doing different game times, watching different things together, and having fun play time.”
And at the end of the day, Camila wants to remind others that no good deed is too small.
“I think that finding a purpose of helping also helps people get through this time,” she says. “If you have the ability to donate, you can still make a difference and go to BStrong and help there. If you don’t have the means of donating dollars, but if you have the means of donating your time or volunteering or calling people, that’s okay too. Maybe it’s checking on your neighbor or neighbors every time you’re going on a grocery call so there’s less people going out. It could be reading a book to your neighbor’s kids over FaceTime so your neighbors have a break. It’s finding ways that we can all help each other.”