BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The coronavirus pandemic has forced some organizations to take on roles they’ve never done before, but businesses aren’t the only ones stepping up to the plate.

When a group of nursing homes needed money to secure personnel protective equipment, a private citizen stepped up to help.

While hundreds of parking spaces sat empty in a Columbia business complex, one office was very busy.

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“Our members need it desperately,” Kevin Hefner, of LifeSpan Network, said.

Cars loaded up on PPE gear that could save hundreds of lives.

“Nursing homes without masks or without gowns… without gloves, it’s a non-starter,” Hefner said.

LifeSpan is a network of about 300 senior living facilities in Maryland and Washington, D.C. Some have been hit hard with nearly half of the COVID-19 deaths in the state occurring at nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

When the network received nearly 200,000 masks this week, there was relief.

Finding the PPE was one thing, but coming up with the money on short notice was another, so Baltimore County Dr. Scott Rifkin fronted about $240,000.

“If you can get equipment into those buildings, you protect the patients,” Rifkin said. “In those buildings, you protect the staff in those buildings and you protect the community.”

An Owings Mills marketing company shifted its mission and located the large stockpile.

“We are working around the clock nationwide,” Scott Stein, of Strategic Factory, said. “We received an order in just yesterday from Hawaii. Everybody needs PPE, it’s a global issue.”

One shipment down and more to come.

“You can’t expect staff to come to work every day, put their lives in danger and not get the equipment,” Rifkin said.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Ava-joye Burnett

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