Leaving a permanent mark: Tattoo shop responds to Beverly Farm’s need for personal protective equipment

Grand Piasa Body Art owner Chris Hinkle is donating boxes of personal protective equipment to Beverly Farm Foundation to help protect staff and residents from contracting the coronavirus. Hinkle is calling on other local tattoo shops and small businesses to do the same. Hinkle’s wife, Cody, is director of donor engagement and marketing for the foundation.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise and thousands of small businesses shut their doors, area residents are wondering what they can do to help one another get through.

Chris Hinkle, owner of Grand Piasa Body Art in Alton, is donating boxes full of personal protective equipment to Beverly Farm Foundation, a nonprofit organization his wife, Cody, works for as the director of donor engagement and marketing.

“It is no secret that there’s just an amazing shortage of PPEs across the country right now,” Cody said. “When Chris received word and felt it was best to close the business, it was his idea, not mine, to donate this equipment to Beverly Farm.”

Beverly Farm was founded in Godfrey in 1897. The foundation serves 350 individuals with developmental disabilities and works closely with hospitals and nursing homes.

“We have folks that live here from 42 states,” Cody said. “People from all over the country have brought their loved ones to Beverly Farm right here in Godfrey. Because we do have a 200-acre campus, we have some pretty cool things that go on. Not everyone out here is medically compromised. Some people have an intellectual disability and are healthier than you and I, but we do have individuals out here that do have some pretty severe medical diagnoses, and those are the folks we are protecting. We’re protecting everyone, but specifically that population. Right now, Beverly Farm’s campus is completely closed. We are screening our staff on every shift for fever and other symptoms.”

Out of a staff of 400 people, 200-250 of them directly help Beverly Farm residents.

“Between nursing, direct care staff and case management, we are in need of PPEs,” Cody said.

At least 500 masks, 500 gloves and a couple boxes worth of aprons have been donated.

The Hinkles made a post on Grand Piasa Body Art’s Facebook page calling on other tattoo shops, salons or small business to donate PPEs to local hospitals, nursing homes and healthcare facilities.

“I guess I finally rubbed off on Chris,” Cody joked. “I am very proud of him for coming up with this idea. People don’t think too much about the tattoo industry. They are regulated by OSHA standards and do bloodborne pathogens. If they are operating a good, clean shop, they should have all of that equipment. Anything that we can do to work together because that is the only way we are going to get through this. Madison County hasn’t seen what this is going to do yet, but it’s scary. We need to work together as a community. Stay home, work together. That’s my motto.”

In other parts of the St. Louis metro area, communities are rallying together to help one another.

Wood River Mayor Cheryl Maguire said Riverbend Family Ministries is asking for donations of milk, bread, perishable items and cleaning supplies.

“There is a nonprofit organization here in town called Helping Hands that works through Riverbend Family Ministries, and they are getting together food packages for families that are struggling,” Maguire said. “Of course, our schools are providing lunches for kids to come and pick up, and this is regardless of whichever school they attend. Then, our fire department has been asking for gloves, masks, sanitary wipes; they will take any type of donation like that. Chief Wade Stahlhut is trying to stay on top of things, and he is in touch every day with the emergency management system. We are trying to get by the best we can.”

To contact the Wood River Fire Department, call (618) 259-0984. To contact Riverbend Ministries, call (618) 251-9790. To find out how and where to donate in your area, call your City Hall for information.

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