8,000 masks given away in two hours Thursday in Marshall County

Sales manager Todd Franke of Country Chevrolet in Benton hands a number of masks to one of dozens of cars that came through the lot Thursday morning for the mask giveaway provided by J&R Pharmacy of Draffenville.

J&R Pharmacy of Draffenville was able to give away 8,000 face masks in two hours Thursday morning to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The pharmacy provided 2,000 masks to each of four locations through the central part of Marshall County: the lot across from Minit Mart in Calvert City, the parking lot next to the pharmacy in Draffenville, Country Chevrolet in Benton and Hardin Baptist Church.

The giveaway lasted from 10 a.m. to noon, and each location gave away all of its masks. The masks were purchased by J&R Pharmacy at about $1 each through business and private donations in Marshall County.

Pharmacist Blake Wiseman said he was fortunate to get so many masks.

“I have several different suppliers, and I saw (the masks) online one day, and I called them up and said, ‘Look, if I order these, can I get them tomorrow?’ and I told them what was going on,” he said. “They said, ‘We’ll make sure they get shipped out.’

“The government has taken a lot of these masks in the crisis we’re in, so it’s hard to get a lot of them, but we were able to do it.”

Wiseman said the idea to give masks away to local residents came about a week ago, when the pharmacy sold about 10,000 masks to several businesses.

“There’s a lot of individuals that can’t afford them,” he said. “The governor said, (with businesses) coming out on May 11, that people would have to wear masks.

“I just reached out to some businesses to see if they’d be interested in teaming up and getting some donations together to be able to meet that need. We had the money in no time, and it was just flawless. It was great!”

Wiseman added that it was a way for the pharmacy to give back to the community in its 65th year of business in Marshall County.

“We wanted to make sure to cater to the elderly population and the underserved,” he said. “That is the majority of the people who came in (Thursday). It is the older population who are at risk and need something like this.”

Wiseman said that having another mask giveaway was something to consider, since so many masks were distributed so quickly on Thursday. He added that any leftover donated funds would go toward a similar event.

“If we can get the donations and we can get some more businesses that want to donate, then we can actually get the masks,” he said. “We’d be glad to hold something like this again.”