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SLU, Partners Help Protect Neighbors By Distributing PPE

08/24/2020

Together with partners drawn from the St. Louis faith community, Saint Louis University students, staff and faculty members have been helping equip their neighbors with masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) as the region continues to battle the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

On Saturday, Aug. 1, SLU volunteers and community partners gathered at the New Community Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church (NCFMBC) in Jennings, Missouri, to distribute 16,000 masks, including 5,000 to clergy members and 11,000 to local government representatives for distribution to their communities.

(From left) Second-year SLU medical students Hannah Gaynier and Rebecca Cunningham join Rev. Rodrick K. Burton at the distribution and registration table during the Aug. 1 Personal Protectice Equipment (PPE) distribution event at New Community Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church (NCFMBC) in Jennings, Missouri. Submitted photo

(From left) Second-year SLU medical students Hannah Gaynier and Rebecca Cunningham join Rev. Rodrick K. Burton at the distribution and registration table during the Aug. 1 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) distribution event at New Community Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church (NCFMBC) in Jennings, Missouri. Submitted photo

Another drive is planned for Saturday, Aug. 29, at the New Northside Family Life Center and will include SLU volunteers from the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Center for Service and Community Engagement (CSCE).

More Details About the Aug. 29 Event

More events are under development as the partnership with SLU continues to grow.

SLU and its volunteers supported the efforts of several organizations include Metropolitan Congregations United (MCU), the Sierra Club and NCFMBC in providing the supplies to local clergy members to distribute among their congregations in in their communities.

Two medical students, two graduate students and a senior SLU staff member represented the University at the event. Organizers limited on-site volunteers to five people per organization to ensure proper social distancing.

Noah Apprill-Sokol, a student at Saint Louis University High School and future Billiken, distributes bags of face masks to a member of the Jennings Clergy Coalition at the Aug. 1 PPE drive. Submitted photo

Noah Apprill-Sokol, a student at Saint Louis University High School and future Billiken, distributes bags of face masks to a member of the Jennings Clergy Coalition at the Aug. 1 PPE drive. Submitted photo

“As the STL Mutual Aid effort continues to grow, connect neighbors and communities, and fill the gaps of support for folks in the most need including seniors and immunocompromised residents, the region has also begun to pay attention” said Rev. Rodrick K. Burton, pastor of New Northside Missionary Baptist Church, said of the event. “Small grassroots and large institutional organizations have shown up in the past few months to find ways to support the effort.”

The partnership grew out the friendship between Burton and University President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., Bryan Sokol, Ph.D., director of SLU’s CSCE, said. Burton’s children are Billikens as SLU alumni and students.

After coordinating with Burton, MCU, and the partners, Sokol and his staff worked with Daniel Blash, M.D., vice dean for diversity, equity and inclusion in the School of Medicine, to finalize SLU’s involvement in the event.

SLU volunteers Rebecca Cunningham, Hannah Gaynier, Justin Vilbig, and Laura Brugger gather with a Metropolitan Congregations United (MCU) representative and Rev. Rodrick K. Burton at the Aug. 1 PPE drive. Submitted photo

SLU volunteers Rebecca Cunningham, Hannah Gaynier, Justin Vilbig, and Laura Brugger gather with a Metropolitan Congregations United (MCU) representative and Rev. Rodrick K. Burton at the Aug. 1 PPE drive. Submitted photo

“It was clear, from the positive energy of our virtual planning meetings, that our attitudes and commitments to supporting the community were very much aligned,” Sokol said. “SLU values its friendships and partnerships in the surrounding community.  This was a clear example of helping our neighbors.”

“We were asked to show up and be supportive,” he continued. “Sometimes that's the best way to lead, as servants to others, and it’s also the best way to empower folks in the community. We are all stronger and better off when we offer this kind of helping hand.”

More About the Saturday, Aug. 1, Event

Community organizations partnered through STL Mutual Aid for a Jennings Congregations PPE Mask Distribution Event for Jennings residents and local congregations.

The day included a short program featuring local clergy and community leaders.

The speakers included:

Event Partners


Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution that values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service. Founded in 1818, the University fosters the intellectual and character development of more than 13,000 students on campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain. Building on a legacy of now more than 200 years, Saint Louis University continues to move forward with an unwavering commitment to a higher purpose, a greater good.

Story by Amelia Flood , University Marketing and Communications