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story.lead_photo.caption A Texas game warden wears a Mayo reusable mask as he patrols a state waterway. (Submitted photo)

TEXARKANA, Texas — An organization dedicated to supporting law enforcement has made a $10,000 donation to a Texarkana furniture manufacturer that has been providing free reusable and disposable masks and gowns to first responders.

Arklatex 100 is a charitable group that steps in if an officer is killed in the line of duty or a police department needs equipment not in their budget. When Mayo Manufacturing began producing potentially lifesaving masks and gowns for area first responders and healthcare workers a few weeks ago, it was a call from Arklatex 100 President and First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp that kicked the project into high gear.

"As we've all seen, the response to the Coronavirus pandemic has led to an acute shortage of masks, gowns and other personal protective equipment. Part of the mission of the Arklatex 100 Club is to support local law enforcement and first responders with the equipment they need to do their work safely."

To that end, the group made an emergency grant to assist the company in this cause.

"We are thankful for the donors who enabled us to offer this support," Crisp said.

After furniture production shut down at the company, its president, President Steve Mayo, was thinking of how to make reusable masks for the public when he received a call from Crisp about the need for masks by jail and police. The same day, the company delivered masks to the Bowie County Sheriff's Office.

Once word got out, Mayo began receiving requests from local hospitals, law enforcement, fire departments, the courts and game wardens.

As of Thursday, the company has made more than 40,000 reusable cloth masks, more than 350,000 disposable single-use masks and 4,300 single-use gowns. Some went to local grocery stores. Customers can put one on as they enter the store and toss them in a trash bin after they leave.

Mayo Manufacturing is selling the reusable masks at $50 for a bag of 10 masks. Those proceeds are used to support the production of the gear given to first responders for free.

"The support we are receiving from the community has been amazing and it's not limited to Texarkana. We have received small donations from private citizens in Dallas, Shreveport, Atlanta and Oklahoma, to name a few," Mayo said.

He said Arklatex's grant increased from $5,000 to $10,000 when Arklatex 100 realized the scale of the company's #CoverUpTexarkana project.

"Their donation is incredible and will help us offset the costs of the masks that we have donated to first responders, hospitals and stores," Mayo said.

And the need is not expected to diminish anytime soon. Even when businesses begin to reopening, a population that has been at home will return to work and venture out. They'll need protection.

(Email [email protected] or call 903-838-0518 for more information.)

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