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Distilleries Are Producing Hand Sanitizer

Dr. Neil Ramsay is an anesthesiologist who sits on a committee for Vancouver General Hospital (VGH). In March, they were facing a major dilemma: Dr. Ramsey and his colleagues were trying to figure out a solution to address the incredible rising need for hand sanitizer. A distributor on the committee was warning them of the impending scarcity, and concerns grew that the hospital would run out before the end of the month.

Dr. Ramsay began to ponder about a solution for his hospital. He had heard that many small businesses were making products they usually didn’t sell during the COVID-19 pandemic to aid healthcare workers and the public. He decided to reach out to his friend Chris Nelson, who was an investor in Shelter Point Spirits. Nelson and his wife generously donated $25,000 immediately to a local distillery to kickstart the process of making hand sanitizer.

Distilleries are producing hand sanitizer
Chris Nelson, right, the owner of Pacific Sands Beach Resort in Tofino and an investor in the Shelter Point Distillery on Vancouver Island, delivers hand sanitizer to VGH anesthesiologist Dr. Neil Ramsay. Image credit: Arlen Redekop / PNG

Within 48 hours of speaking with Chris Nelson, the Campbell River Distillery delivered the hand sanitizer to VGH. Dr. Ramsay confirms that it distinguishes itself from other hand sanitizers with its strong boozy scent: “When it first arrived, I saw people sniffing their hands and laughing. It smells like whiskey!” Donations of hand sanitizer continued to make their way to the Salvation Army on the Eastside and another hospital, Victoria General.

Many British Columbia based businesses are changing their products and services to help navigate the current pandemic, and Dr. Ramsay doesn’t plan to stop utilizing them. In addition to distilleries producing hand sanitizer, Dr. Ramsay has found a company that is producing nearly 90,000 isolation gowns. This company is Mustang Survival in Burnaby and their typical specialty is marine survival gear. Dr. Ramsay reached out to them about developing a particular water-resistant, breathable hood for doctors to wear while intubating patients.

distilleries are producing hand sanitizer
VGH anesthesiologist Dr. Neil Ramsay wearing the prototype of a hood designed by Burnaby-based Mustang Survival to keep spittle from COVID patients off doctors necks and faces. Image credit Arlen Redekop / PNG

This is an especially important piece of equipment, as intubating patients can cause workers to be covered in spittle. They created a prototype for Dr. Ramsay, and he soon hopes 100s of the hoods will be handed out to his hospital and others that are expressing interest for the extra protection. “…just gives us extra confidence,” Ramsay said gratefully, “I just want to thank people for all the help.”


Around the world, it’s no different. Thousands of distilleries are producing hand sanitizer in the United States for businesses and hospitals. Multiple private services are coming together to produce PPE for healthcare workers—even 3-D printing the PPE. The desire to help our medical personnel is so widespread that nearly every Etsy account owned by someone who can sew features a wide selection of cloth masks. It goes to show that even in such harsh and uncertain times, lots of individuals come together voluntarily to offer their services and knowledge, allowing us to move forward.

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Gollum Livestreaming The Hobbit for Charity

On Thursday, Lord of the Rings’ Gollum actor Andy Serkis announced an independently led charity fundraiser to take place the following day on Friday, May 8—reading the Hobbit over livestream from cover to cover. Gollum livestreaming The Hobbit for charity is probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience.


Serkis said that “While times are tough, I want to take you on one of the greatest fantasy adventures ever written, a 12-hour armchair marathon across Middle Earth while raising money for two amazing charities which are doing extraordinary work right now to help those most in need.”

Gollum Livestreaming The Hobbit for Charity
Image Credit: Best Beginnings

Serkis didn’t disappoint with delivery. He read the dialogue in various different voices, including his famous take on the character Gollum. The “Hobbitathon” was linked over the GoFundMe hosted by Serkis that has since raised over £290,000 and is quickly closing in on the £350,000 goal. Over 650,000 people around the world tuned in to support the virtual fundraising event. The funds will be split evenly and directed to the charities Best Beginnings and NHS Charities Together in their efforts to respond to relief for the Covid-19 pandemic.

Best Beginnings, of which Serkis is an ambassador, is a charity that supports new and expectant parents, babies, and toddlers. They provide educational support and encouragement with their Baby Buddy app, which comes with medical information and videos to help parents while they are unable to have a wider support network.


The app also provides a clinically supervised 24/7 “Baby Buddy Crisis Messenger,” which is available in times of immediate emotional crisis. “By supporting Best Beginnings to support parents, we can all play our part in helping protect babies and toddlers at this time of national emergency and protect their futures,” Serkis wrote in his GoFundMe.

Gollum Livestreaming The Hobbit for Charity
Image Credit: Andy Serkis' GoFundMe

NHS Charities Together is an organization that is providing needed care to medical service providers, volunteers, and medical patients during the crisis. They provide nutrition, mental health care, electronic devices to keep in touch with loved ones while they are apart, and more.


Although the livestream is now private, the GoFundMe is still up for support and donations are pouring in for the act of goodwill. Gollum livestreaming The Hobbit for charity is more evidence that voluntaryism can be effective!

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April 2020 Organizational Update

Despite the world being on hold, April was a productive month for us. We continued to respond to the Covid-19 crisis in any way we could, as well as gearing into the opportunity to come together with our supporters more on social media. This month has been a time of thankfulness for our community and reflecting the power of voluntaryism: when people come together and help one another in times of need. We’re encouraged by the helping hands that joined in on our Covid-19 response project and the involvement in VIA Community. Here’s what we have to look back on:

  • The Covid-19 Relief project provided 94 school children with a month of meals to alleviate the lack of work and resources that came with shelter and quarantine orders across the nation.

  • The Covid-19 PPE project provided 3D-printed personal protection equipment (65 face shields and 35 ear savers) to nurses, doctors, surgeons, EMTs, dentists, and other healthcare workers in response to the shortages.

  • Additionally, we coordinated with volunteers around the country to 3D print PPE for healthcare workers independently.

  • Libertarian merchandise store Liberty Junkies provided support to our Covid-19 Relief projects by donating the profits of their face masks to our foundation as well as bringing awareness to their audience of our cause.

  • Athena Fleeger was recognized Voluntaryist of the Month in VIA Community for her continued support and involvement.

  • Our ongoing t-shirt design contest launched and we are already receiving submissions as well as anticipating more great designs before the May 16th closing date.

With no real end in sight for the government’s COVID-19 lockdowns, we look ahead and know that we will continue to see voluntaryism at work. We continue pushing forward thanks to the encouragement from everyday people offering help and our supporters and donors.

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Labatt Provides 233,000 Cans of Water to Homeless in Response to Covid-19 Crisis

While the world has collectively come to blows with the effects of the Covid-19 crisis, the counter-response by both individuals and businesses to assist their fellow man have offered great relief. Among those corporations paving the way to help are—probably unsurprisingly—Labatt Brewing Company. Labatt Brewing Company donated truckloads of canned drinking water to be distributed along with take-away meals for the homeless.

Labatt has been notable for their services to Canada in times of need under their Labatt Disaster Relief Programme, established in 2012. Since then, they have donated canned water for first responders and the community in the wake of various emergency conditions, and recently so, considering the wildfires in Alberta in 2016 and the flooding along the Saint John River in New Brunswick and 2018, donating between 100,000 and 200,000 cans of water for each disaster, according to the need. So far, Labatt has exceeded that by donating 233,000 of the cans to the City of Toronto for Covid-19 relief alone, the company reported via Twitter on Sunday, April 26th.

Labatt Brewing Company donated truckloads of canned drinking water
Labatt employees volunteer to load cases of donated water for delivery in Alberta, Canada. Image Credit: Labatt Brewing Company.

The need for canned water at this time comes with the need for single use disposable drinking water to compliment the take-away meal services for the homeless by the City of Toronto. The cans help prevent the spread of the virus by limiting drinking from public water fountains. Toronto Mayor John Tory publicly responded to the donation saying, “The support of private partners like Labatt have helped our City in our non-stop efforts to respond to this emergency – to protect the health of residents and save lives.”

Labatt Brewing Company donated truckloads of canned drinking water, but their services haven’t stopped there. With the help of their sponsors and generous donations, Labatt helps in other ways, including providing more than 50,000 bottles of hand sanitizer for Food Bank Canada as an immediate response to the effects of the virus. In addition to providing much needed supplies, their outreach and employees make up a team of volunteers who distribute the units.

The encouragement to take away from this news is that there are unique responses in the state of emergency crises, various skills and available goods, and most importantly the people who are willing to lend a helping hand in times of need. Communities across the globe are suffering—some from COVID-19, but most from the actions of their governments—and there are those who provide relief out of mere kindness and empathy.

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Seeking Volunteers for our Covid-19 PPE Project

Voluntaryism in Action (VIA) is seeking volunteers for our Covid-19 PPE Project! VIA’s chief of technology, Alon Ganon, is piloting a project to produce face shields in response to the high-demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) since the viral pandemic Covid-19 began sweeping the globe with caution, fear, and necessity.

While many volunteers all over have met the demand by producing cotton masks in their home for close family, friends, and their local hospitals, Ganon’s tool to create these shields is quite unique—a 3D printer, specifically a model created by Czech inventor Josef Prusa who forefronted the original project to produce the face shields when his country was especially hit by the need.

Since then, Ganon has obtained a dependable design for the U.S. based on Prusa’s original design, and now VIA is calling for the community to help with supplies and operations to assemble and process the face shields. The shields are durable and the frames sanitizable, enabling them to last through the remainder of the long pandemic. Here are four ways our voluntaryists can help us with provisions:

  • By donating supplies directly. Needed supplies include clear presentation covers, 1” wide elastic or rubber bands, 1.75 mm of PETG (plastic), and disposable gloves. These supplies can be found and bought online via Amazon Wishlist.
  • By donating your money to Voluntaryism in Action. Money is used to supply the needed materials to make the 3D printed PPE’s as well as the shipping costs to process the completed equipment.
  • By creating and donating face shields to VIA using a 3D printer. The free downloadable file can be found here. VIA accepts them in PLA or ABS—please notate which filament is used when sending them. Those with 3D printers are also encouraged to create bias tape makers to donate to their local sewing communities making fabric masks.
  • Healthcare workers can help additionally by donating face shields to VIA for free or the cost of shipping, as we are managing and processing them to where they are most needed with this project.

If you have any questions about our project or are a healthcare worker in need of a face sheild or you know healthcare workers in need, please reach out to us at [email protected] And please help us spread the word as we continue seeking volunteers for our Covid-19 PPE project!