HUDSON — Following a trend seen around the country, Cooper’s Daughter Distillery and Cooperage at Olde York Farm, 284 State Route 23, has switched its production from micro-batch spirits to hand sanitizer.
The family-operated distillery is making sanitizer following World Health Organization guidelines to donate to hospitals and first responders.
The distillery has produced 50 gallons of sanitizer to date. They also plan on donating to senior care facilities, restaurants and delivery drivers, and farmers markets if supply holds up.
Newsome said it was not hard to make the switch, since they already make alcohol. The hard part was finding the other ingredients, hydrogen peroxide and glycerin, as well as bottles and lids.
“Everything is in such high demand right now that anything you can find on the internet, there’s like 16 ounces at a time and its being completely price gouged as well,” said co-owner, flavor developer and operations manager Sophie Newsome.
Local businesses pitched in to get the project rolling. Next Gen Signs donated the labels for the sanitizer, Subversive Brewing provided enough glycerin and hydrogen peroxide for the first batch, and Pretium Packaging donated 5,000 plastic bottles.
One recipient of the sanitizer was the City of Hudson Fire Department, whose business has not slowed down.
“Donations geared to protect our personnel means a lot to each and every member,” Hudson Fire Commissioner Timothy Hutchings said. “It really goes a long way to lift their spirits when people show they truly care about their well-being.”
The Hudson Fire Department has about 85 active professional volunteer firefighters. As a precaution, the department has limited access to the fire stations to active members responding to a call for service, maintaining equipment or completing other related work as needed.
“All emergency services personnel are at a tremendous risk,” Hutchings said. “Members are not only having direct exposure to people who may be a carrier or are infected, but also the living and work environments of those who request our services. We cannot predict who is going to call or from where and for what type of emergency. This is why we have worked to ensure our members remain protected on the scene, at the stations, and more importantly, when they return home to their families after a call for service.”
Fire Chief Tony DeMarco has adopted policies to help firefighters stay safe on emergency calls.
“We’re all in this together and we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to keep everybody safe and protected,” DeMarco said.
The department Saturday put out a list of questions members will be asking when they arrive on the scene of an emergency, including: Has anyone present traveled outside the country in the past two weeks or recently traveled to and from New York City, Westchester or Rockland counties? Has a fever 100.4 degrees or greater with cough and shortness of breath, or is under any sort of quarantine status?
“The answers to these question in no way changes our commitment to you,” the department said. “They allow us to take the necessary safety precautions to ensure the safety and well-being of our members. We are committed to serving our community whenever we are called upon.”
Aside from answering the questions honestly, DeMarco said the best thing the public can do is be patient since less firefighters and officers will be entering residences to limit potential exposure.
“That’s the kind of thing that makes us get through stuff like this that much easier, when everybody comes together and does their part,” DeMarco said of the sanitizer donation.
Newsome said her mother, co-owner Louise Newsome, is on the state Distillers Guild, and the organization shared information about the process and recipes.
“This is a very, very hard time for all small businesses, especially ones that rely on being face-to-face with customers,” Newsome said. “There’s been this huge rally among distilleries in New York and, honestly, throughout America of ‘how are we going to survive this, and how are we going to make this better?’”
The distillery has also taken sanitizer to fire departments in Claverack, Cairo, Germantown, Copake, Greenport, Greenville and Stuyvesant. They also made donations to the Hudson Police Department, Columbia County EMT, Subversive Brewing and others. The list will continue to grow depending on supplies, Newsome said.
Joann Fabrics, at 160 Fairview Ave. in Greenport, has provided online tutorials at joann.com for making protective masks and gowns for medical personnel. The store is providing curbside pickup of materials bought online, and sewers can drop off their finished products and Joann to be taken to a local hospital.
“The amazing thing about the crafting community is that, especially in difficult times, they are always looking for ways to help,” said Wade Miquelon, president and CEO of Joann Fabrics. “We are seeing hospital workers, organizations and individuals coming into our stores for supplies to make these essential items, and our customers are asking us how they can help. So many are spending their time and money to help in this tragic situation, and we want to step in to do our part to protect the amazing people who are helping the communities we serve.”
Cooper’s Daughter is asking for donations at oldeyorkfarm.com to purchase supplies and cover the overhead of producing the alcohol, as well as sharing a portion with its full-time employees who are unable to return to work until the health crisis has subsided.
Abby Hoover is a reporter for Columbia-Greene Media. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.