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A sanitizer windfall for seniors in Easthampton 

  • Paul St. Pierre of Easthampton holds bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitizer, Tuesday, Apr. 7, 2020 at Nashawannuck Pond in Easthampton. He works for a chemical company in the area who makes the product and has donated several hundred bottles to the Easthampton Council on Aging for distribution to those in need. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Paul St. Pierre shows bottles of hand sanitizer Tuesday at Nashawannuck Pond in Easthampton. He works for an area chemical company that has donated the product. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 4/8/2020 8:24:21 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Few items have been in as high demand, and as difficult to find, as hand sanitizer since the public became aware of the dangers of COVID-19. Now the Council on Aging is teaming up with a local resident to make sure hand sanitizer gets into the hands of those who need it the most.

“Even for myself, it’s difficult to track some of this stuff down,” said Brendan Rogers, executive director of the Easthampton Council on Aging & Enrichment Center, on finding hand sanitizers and disinfectants.

He noted that when the Council On Aging shops at Big E’s for the seniors it delivers groceries to, the shelves are usually cleared of disinfectants and hand sanitizer.

Enter Easthampton resident Paul St. Pierre. The company St. Pierre works for, which wishes to remain anonymous, started making hand sanitizer to meet the demand created by the pandemic.

“We came up with a system to make it and bottle it safely,” said St. Pierre. “It just blew up.”

Health organizations and municipalities, although not Easthampton, are among those that have purchased the company’s new sanitizer.

St. Pierre has more than 300 2-ounce bottles of his company’s hand sanitizer that was provided to him at no charge, and he is looking to give it away to the elderly, immunocompromised people and others who are at elevated risk from the virus.

“Sanitizer is not a replacement for hand-washing; it’s not a replacement for social distancing,” he said. “It’s just another tool that can help.”

To find people who could use the hand sanitizer, he reached out to the Council On Aging. To his surprise, the COA offered to deliver the bottles to people’s residences.

“I’m grateful to them,” said St. Pierre, who had expected to have to drive around and deliver the hand sanitizer himself.

Those who want hand sanitizer, or who would like it delivered to a loved one in need, should email with a name, phone number,and address for the party getting the delivery.

Questions about whether someone has a medical condition or is a senior will not be asked.

“It’s the honor system,” St. Pierre said.

No one will be charged for the hand sanitizer either, with St. Pierre describing distributing it as a “public service.”

“I feel like it’s absolutely needed,” Rogers said.

St. Pierre said that if demand for the hand sanitizer exceeds supply, it will be distributed via lottery. So far, he said, he’s gotten a couple dozen responses.

St. Pierre also said that he hopes he can get more of the product if demand ouitstrips his supply.

“We’re just doing everything that we can possibly do,” he said. “I wish I had more power to help.”

He also said that he has friends who have lost family members to COVID-19.

“It’s breaking my heart every day,” he said.

As for when the hand sanitizer will be distributed, St. Pierre said that it hadn’t been determined yet, but he would like for distribution to begin this weekend.

One good thing that has come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rogers said, is that it has fostered relationships like the one between St. Pierre and the COA. He also praised Big E’s and the Easthampton Community Center for their work with the COA.

“There’s this real sense of community drive now,” Rogers said.

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