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$60,000 anonymous donation to COVID-19 Relief Fund buys 25,000 masks

SALISBURY — To help with its COVID-19 relief efforts, an anonymous donor gave $60,000 to the Rowan County United Way to purchase 25,000 white cotton masks.

The masks, made by Parkdale Mills, arrived at the United Way office last week and will be distributed to local nonprofit organizations, first responders and low-income housing areas that are high-density. United Way Executive Director Jenny Lee said any remaining masks will then be distributed to local businesses who are willing to donate proceeds from sales back to the COVID-19 Relief Fund.

With both branches of Parkdale Mills in Rowan County closing last month, the masks were made in the Belmont area and delivered at no cost to Salisbury.

Lee said the masks are good for 14 or 15 washes.

“The person wanted this money to go full circle, not just as a check, but to do something in a more creative way,” Lee said.

Including the $60,000 donation, the agency’s COVID-19 Relief Fund had raised a total of $197,347 by Saturday. Efforts by New Sarum Brewery, Salisbury Pride and Cheerwine to sell products or raise money for the fund were still ongoing Saturday. The brewery is selling T-shirts. Salisbury Pride plans to have a virtual fundraiser and Cheerwine will donate proceeds from this year’s festival T-shirts. The Rowan County United Way also has reallocated up to $120,000 in internal funding for the relief fund.

With effects of business shutdowns still affecting local folks, Lee said there’s no specific date at which the agency plans to exhaust the COVID-19 Relief Fund.

“We want to have these dollars in case people need them in the coming months in case there’s a spike in cases,” Lee said. “So, we’re trying to make sure we’re very intentional about evaluating every application that comes in.”

The United Way is covering all costs associated with dispersing the funds, with all money donated going directly to nonprofits who receive grants.

So far, the relief fund has given out roughly $64,000 to nonprofits, including about $54,000 in grants and a $10,000 donation from the Wallace and Graham law firm designated for donation to Rowan Helping Ministries.

After announcing the latest grant recipients last week — Nazareth Child and Family Connection, the Community Care Clinic of Rowan County and Capstone Recovery Center — the United Way is accepting applications for its next round of funding. Applicants must be 501(c)(3)s based in Rowan County and intend to use the funding to help locals with food insecurity, medical expenses and housing needs. The United Way has also said money can be used to help nonprofits with disruptions to business, but Lee said many local agencies received funding through the Paycheck Protection Program, a forgivable loan if all employees are kept on the payroll.

Nonprofits can obtain more information about applying by visiting rowanunitedway.org or calling the office at 704-633-1802.

Anyone interested in making a donation can do so at rowanunitedway.org, text the word “RELIEF” to 704-286-1011 or mail a contribution to the United Way at 131 West Innes St., Suite 201, Salisbury, N.C. 28144. Those mailing donations should address them to the attention of the COVID-19 Relief Fund. Those making a donation online should include a note in the comment section saying it’s for the COVID-19 Relief Fund.

The most recent donations are as follows:

• Ellen Kesler, $50

• Granite Quarry Civitan Club, $200

• Ron and Diana Potts $100

• Anonymous, $400

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