OTTAWA -- Conquer COVID-19 made a huge donation to Ottawa’s health care system.

The grassroots, volunteer driven organization offloaded a truckload of personal protective equipment at St. John Ambulance on Thursday.

The PPE purchased comes from a $1 million donation from Fiona McKean and Toby Lutke, founders of Shopify and the Thistledown Foundation. Thursday was the first shipment received from that donation, and it was huge. 

“Two-hundred-and-50-thousand surgical masks came in today, along with 2,500 units of hand sanitizer and approximately three-thousand face shields,” says Khalid Elgazzar, Ottawa lead for Conquer COVID-19.

“Were very exciting about the influx of PPE that’s going to come into the community,” says Dr. Samantha Hill, President of the Ontario Medical Association. “It’s been a real challenge and this will make a dent.”

Most of this equipment will be sent to health care workers in the community, but some of it will be sent to smaller agencies, who often fall through the cracks like homeless shelters. 

“There’s a risk there, and they don’t have PPE for the front line workers that are helping homeless folks,” says Elgazzar. 

“People are quite scared to go into a lot of spaces or they don’t have any home and so, it’s critical that when they go to a service provider they actually know that they’re going to be protected because staff are able to protect themselves with the PPE,” says Kaite Burkholder Harris, Executive Director for the Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa.

Conquer COVID-19 has raised more than $2.1 million so far to help keep front line workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and this shipment will most likely not be the last. 

“We’re very happy about this.” Says Elgazzar. “Today marks a milestone for the organization for sure.”