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NOVA Community College donates unused supplies to local health department

Instructors in school departments, which are now using virtual learning, donated their unused PPE equipment for healthcare workers.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — One thing that keeps us smiling through all of these difficult moments is the generosity of the DMV. People have been giving back and lifting up. Recently, that lift came from higher education.

The usually packed parking lots at Northern Virginia Community College are empty. The classrooms regularly filled with noise and activity are now abandoned. Everyone is at home learning through their computers, meaning the tools that are usually part of lessons are no longer needed on campus.

But the teachers and staff at NOVA realized that doesn't mean their tools and efforts aren't actually needed elsewhere during this pandemic.

"I'm a scientist and that's my training -- to problem solve," Associate Dean of Science Dr. Maggie Emblom said. "So, when I get that emotional feeling of ‘oh my goodness,’ the problem solver scientist in me wants to do what I can to try to help out and find a solution." 

For Dr. Emblom, that solution became a donation drive.

RELATED: Maryland nurse gets thousands of face masks made to donate to health care providers

Northern Virginia Community College's (NOVA) Alexandria Campus is a unique academic institution; a close-knit community of various academic programs located within minutes of the nation's capital. With over 50 years of educating community, business and government leaders, the Northern Virginia Community College, Alexandria Campus is proud to continue an education focused on student achievement, committed to the values of access, opportunity and excellence.

"The personal protective equipment that we have, if we can give it to the community where it's desperately needed right now, then we wanted to do that," she said. 

So far, the chemistry, biology, physics, geology and automotive departments have given almost 200 N95 masks, 3,000 gloves, 45 splash-proof goggles, 40 face masks, Ethanol pads and Concentrated Lysol to the Alexandria Health Department.

Credit: Northern Virginia Community College
Donations from Northern Virginia Community College were dropped off at the Alexandria Health Department.

NOVA's EMS program also felt the giving spirit, donating to local emergency departments.

For some, like automotive instructor Laura Garcia, the effort was personal.

"My mother is a nurse," she said. "She graduated from a community college program and so I, of course, feel that I would like her to be safe and we really do want all of our medical community to be safe."

That's exactly what this equipment will do, according to Jasmin Johnson, Assistant Public Health Emergency Management Coordinator for the Alexandria Health District.

"I was elated," she said. "I was so happy when I went downstairs to pick it up!" 

Johnson explained there was an early sense of panic when they realized their supplies were dwindling. These donations alleviated that panic for now.

RELATED: 'The thing our company can do is sew' | DC bridal boutique donates masks to health care workers

Credit: Northern Virginia Community College
Donations from Northern Virginia Community College were dropped off at the Alexandria Health Department.

"Like 'look what NOVA Community College left us,'" she remembers yelling. "They left us so much stuff, which means we're able to help those healthcare facilities that don't have any PPE at all." 

The health department gives the resources to local places, including long-term care facilities, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Back at NOVA, helping their own community makes a difficult time, just a bit easier.

"It’s often difficult to sometimes realize where donations go," Garcia said. "To be able to have that strength in connection is really key and crucial and has always been important to us, but is especially important to us now."

Credit: Northern Virginia Community College
Instructors gathered PPE equipment to donate to the local health department.

The health department still needs more supplies, especially N-95s. Click here for more information on how to help.

As part of the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Alexandria is accepting donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) and distributing the supplies to Alexandria-based healthcare providers and facilities in need. This includes: Surgical masks N95 respirators (masks) Disposable gowns Face shields Disposable coveralls Gloves Hand sanitizer Donated supplies may be opened, but must be unused.

RELATED: Montgomery College donates over 3,100 PPE items to first responders, medical personnel

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