WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A Washington Township couple forced to stay at home because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) are spending their time making hand sanitizer for police officers and firefighters.
Cristina Cecchetti said when she heard sheriff’s deputies were working without something as basic as hand sanitizer, she knew what she had to do.
UPDATE -- April 30, 2020: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 41,379; Death toll now at 3,789
A few weeks ago, Cecchetti and her husband put their own lives on hold and brainstormed about what they could do to help get hand sanitizer to their police officers and firefighters.
“We had been hearing quite a bit of stories about distilleries and other manufacturing companies that were converting their facilities into a place where they can make hand sanitizer,” Cecchetti said.
Since buying sanitizer to donate wasn’t an option, the couple got creative.
“We made the decision at that point to say, 'Let’s go and purchase the other ingredients and see if we can make hand sanitizers,” Cecchetti said.
They already had the space and a few key ingredients to start the process.
“We went out and purchased more containers,” Cecchetti said. “We purchased aloe. We purchased even more ethanol.”
They reached out to the World Health Organization for steps on how to make sanitizer with the right ratio of ethanol, glycerin, hydrogen peroxide, essential oil and distilled water.
“I think it was last weekend we were making it and said, ‘Oh my gosh, this is -- we made it. It’s great. It’s amazing, and it workers, and it smells good,'” Cecchetti said. “It felt good on our hands and, you know, it’s that moment of, like you said, you get creative and you push yourself.”
At first they were using their own money to pay for everything.
“We have family -- we’re first responders on both sides -- nurses, police, you name it, and we were, like, 'This is not going to stabilize unless they have the sanitation they need, because they’re a carrier," Cecchutti said. “They can pass this along.”
When word got out, more calls came in asking for help, and people in their community started to donate.
“There’s a lot of energy that goes into it, and it’s nice to see the payoff,” Cecchetti said. “I get a little teary eyed even thinking about the call we made to them and how excited they were.”
Then, they made 40 gallons and brought it to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.
“It is definitely rewarding, especially when we started our outreach and connected with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department,” Cecchetti said. “Just hearing their emotion of excitement, saying,'Thank you so much,' just means so much to us that it’s free.”
Calls started coming in from police departments and fire stations across the area, asking for donations.
Cecchetti and her husband are now making hand sanitizer as quickly as possible to meet the high demand. They bought a whole new stock of gallon containers to keep killing up for donations.
“It was nice to hear how much they cared to accept it because I think sometimes when you donate or give, you don’t know it’ll be received in that kind of way,” Cecchetti said. “It might just be, like, ‘OK, thank you. Go put it in the back.’ That was really special to hear.”
Deputies in Oakland and Macomb counties are grateful for the donation, as are police officers from Birmingham to Sterling Heights to New Haven.
“There might be ways to push yourself to do something you might have never thought you could do, and you learn in that experience and you might fail and you might succeed,” Cecchetti said.
She has a goal to deliver several thousand gallons of hand sanitizer to officers and deputies across Southeast Michigan.