BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — On Friday, as people continue to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Sunshine Ace Hardware decided to help their neighbors to the south.
The island nation of Haiti received its first shipment of the vaccine last month but has struggled to keep them refrigerated.
Haiti is not exactly in their local delivery range but thanks to the help from a few other community organizations, they are now shipping coolers that will help transport the vaccine to the country’s rural areas.
In partnership with the community organizations, Leadership Collier and Hope for Haiti, President Michael Wynn of Sunshine Ace Hardware says they have donated 17 Yeti coolers to help successfully transport them outside the nation's capital, Port-au-Prince.
Wynn says this has been a growing problem for Haiti because many of their remote communities do not have electricity, so keeping vaccines at the required temperature was a huge logistical concern.
“One of our core values is caring for your neighbors and you can make the argument that they are, somewhat a distant neighbor but still neighbors none the less and frankly, we have a lot of Haitians that live in Southwest Florida. People that have families there so, this is just another way of us helping our associates as well as other residents of Southwest Florida,” said Wynn.
Wynn says the coolers can keep the vaccines at a desirable temperature for several days, allowing them to be transported and stored successfully.
Wynn says the 17 coolers will allow hundreds of dozens of vaccines to reach these communities, with all of their coolers already headed to Haiti.
“So the Yeti coolers that are very durable and can keep things cool for so much longer than traditional coolers is a perfect partner for us to to be able to store hundreds of dozens of vaccines in each cooler ultimately helping thousands of Haitians be able to receive this very important treatment,” said Wynn.
Wynn says after the program is over the coolers will continue to be used to store other medications like Insulin and antibiotics that need to be kept cool.
He says part of the inspiration to extend their reach, comes from the community support they saw at Sunshine Ace Hardware during the pandemic.
“So as they have supported us, we have supported local restaurants, non-profits and other neighbors like Haiti with their needs and I think that people see that we continue to give back to the community as they give back to us,” said Wynn.
Hope for Haiti is still collecting monetary donations to purchase more coolers and cover other costs.
A link to connect with them can be found by clicking here.