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story.lead_photo.caption On April 4, Lance Jett, left, manager at Drippers Vape Shop made a delivery of some of the store’s hand sanitizer to the El Dorado Fire Department. Pictured from left to right are Jett, Assistant Fire Chief Seth Rainwater, Lt. Trey Sewell and Capt. Joseph Perry.

As the COVID-19 pandemic changes day-to-day life as we know it, a local business is rolling with the punches and changing their operations to continue serving the community. For about a week and a half now, staff at Drippers Vape Shop, located at 709 N. West Avenue, has been producing, bottling and distributing their own hand sanitizer. About 10 gallons had been produced by Wednesday, and for first responders, it’s free.

“We want to support the community, take care of those that are taking care of us,” said Stacey Weaver, owner of Drippers. “We’re happy to help any way that we can.”

Throughout the country, the retailers one would typically see with shelves full of hand sanitizer, cleaning products and even staples like toilet paper, have been ransacked as people buy the products in bulk to try to protect themselves in the pandemic panic.

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, in late March, while they did not have hard data on supplies of disinfectants and cleaning materials like hand sanitizer, the agency was aware of shortages of medical supplies like personal protective equipment, respirators and some animal and human drugs.

Drippers is a franchise, Weaver said, and other locations around the state are also making hand sanitizers for their local first responders. While the pandemic has impacted normal operations, the local store hasn’t had to lay off any workers as a result of it.

“We’ve had a good response to the hand sanitizer,” Weaver said. “We’ve had a lot of good customers and a lot of repeat customers.”

On April 4, Drippers manager Lance Jett delivered a stock of hand sanitizer to the El Dorado Fire Department. Other first responders, including police officers and medical personnel, have also stopped by the storefront for some.

“During this time, when supplies like hand sanitizer have become hard to come by, we appreciate it when local businesses change their business model and start producing those things,” EFD Chief Chad Mosby said. “That’s a pretty common occurrence, whether you’re talking about this public health crisis or other times — the people of El Dorado and Union County are always ready to lend a hand.”

Weaver said that for her, giving back is personal. Her husband is a member of the A-State Boys Motorcycle Club — whose annual toy run for The CALL of Union County and benefit for late Camden cancer warrior Oakley Nimmo were sponsored by Drippers — and a combat veteran, so service is close to her family’s heart.

“My husband is a combat veteran and my son is in the military, overseas, so we are really concerned about community and family and our country,” Weaver said.

Weaver said she makes the hand sanitizer while other staff members at Drippers bottle it and distribute it when necessary. It is made using vegetable glycerine, an ingredient used in the shop’s homemade vape juices, along with alcohol and peroxide. Drippers has pledged to make the sanitizer for as long as they are able to keep a supply of the raw materials.

It is not advised for individuals to make their own hand sanitizer if they do not have access to the proper materials and recipe. There are other ways the community can help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic though, from making homemade masks for those that aren’t able to contributing financially to local food banks.

Drippers’s hand sanitizer is available for sale to the public for $2, which is at cost for the company. The store is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m.

“We just want to help the community and keep everyone safe,” Weaver said. “This community has been good to us.”

Are you helping to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in your own way? Reach out to the News-Times at [email protected] to let us know.

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