MADISON (WKOW) -- After local leaders started a fundraising effort to help school students and staff members get N95 masks, government officials stepped in to provide 200,000 masks for the greater Madison area.
Leaders from the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County (BGCDC), Verona Safety Supply, Inc., Dane County Neighbors Helping Neighbors and the Black Men Coalition Of Dane County originally organized a GoFundme fundraiser this weekend to buy 200,000 N95 and KN95 masks for children and staff in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD).
"I wanna keep people alive," BGCDC CEO Michael Johnson said. "I want to keep teachers safe."
Johnson has been spearheading the effort to fund the masks and has helped donate more than 500,000 masks to MMSD schools since the pandemic began. But since the Omicron variant is so contagious, higher grade masks were needed.
"With the schools going virtual and now reopened, I had teachers email me, inbox me, saying, 'Hey, we were very thankful for the half a million facemasks given to MMSD, but we need the N95s or the KN95S,'" Johnson said.
Within two days, the fundraiser had already raised more than $15,000 and had hundreds of donors. Johnson even caught the attention of Gov. Tony Evers.
On Monday morning, Johnson announced that the 200,000 masks, which go for about a dollar each, were going to be supplied by the governor's office.
They'll now be made available to the greater Madison area for free, and the rest of the money raised will go towards schools and distribution.
The masks are set to arrive by Tuesday morning and will be distributed by Johnson and his partners shortly after. They're still in the process of making distribution plans but intend to start handing them out at their offices on Wednesday.
Johnson said he was thankful to be a part of the effort.
"Safety should always be our number one priority," Johnson said. "And if Boys and Girls Clubs and our supporters can play a role in keeping people safe, that's what we're going to do."