Trash to Treasure: Maryland Recycling Company Donates 36K Masks to Health Care Workers

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When a recycling company in Beltsville, Maryland, received hundreds of unopened boxes a few months ago, some of the business' operators didn't think much of it.

"We bring in quite a bit of material here everyday," Sun Recycling partner Andrew Springer said. "Wood, concrete, drywall."

Springer and fellow partner Brian Shipp were going to recycle the boxes along with whatever was inside — but Gary Shipp, their third partner and Brian's father, wanted to hold onto them.

"He has a habit of taking things out of here," Brian Shipp said.

"We pleaded with him to throw them away," Springer said.

But Gary was stubborn.

"I knew they could be used at some point in time, either by us or someone else, so I pushed them off to the side and put them in the warehouse," he said.

Turns out, he was right.

Inside the boxes were nearly 36,000 unused and unopened N95 respirator masks.

When the novel coronavirus made its way to the D.C. area, they realized they had an opportunity to help. The very same masks in their warehouse were in high demand and on short supply.

"You know, immediately just thought, hey we need to see about getting these out to people that need them," Brian Shipp said.

The partners could have sold the masks, but they're donating them to hospitals and nursing homes across the D.C. area.

"It feels good to help people, especially right now. It's just unimaginable to think that our health care institutions are in a place like they are," Springer said.

Springer and Brian Shipp say they're grateful they were wrong and Gary chose to keep the masks.

"Thanks for doing what we asked you not to do," Springer said.

Gary's response? I told you so.

"Happens all the time," he said with a smile.

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