WHEN Tony Lotzof stood in a socially distanced queue at Baker’s Delight Bentleigh a few weeks ago, he overheard a conversation between the elderly couple in front of him. They were discussing whether they could afford both bread and masks.
Lotzof returned home, deeply troubled by the conversation.
“I decided I could either sit and be bothered by it, or I could do something about it.”
Choosing the latter, he called friend Brett Goldin, managing director of Steri Solutions International, a company that imports and distributes medical accessories. He explained why he felt compelled to purchase some masks – “a couple of thousand of them”.
Goldin told Lotzof whatever he buys he will match. Speaking with The AJN, Goldin said, “It really hit home. We are lucky, and if we can help, we have to do it. The more masks we can get out there, the quicker we can end this.”
He also spoke to his supplier Softmed, and they too wanted to assist.
The result? 20,000 masks for those who need it most – and 3000 containers of hand sanitiser.
Determined to do more, Lotzof called one more friend, Max Grundmann, CEO of Maxwell & Williams, to ask for “a couple mugs … to brighten up some people’s days.”
“I wanted people to know that they could go home, pour themselves a cup of tea and know that the community has got their back.”
Grundmann delivered more than a few mugs – 3000, to be precise.
“To relieve some of the stresses that all of us are under in this absurd time sounded like a great idea,” Grundmann told The AJN.
“My parents survived the Holocaust, and we have been very fortunate to live in this country. My cup runneth over.”
Through word of mouth, volunteers from across the wider community then came together to create packs, each including five masks, a hand sanitiser and a mug.
Among the volunteers were Caulfield MP David Southwick and, Moorabbin Shule’s Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum.
Just three days after Lotzof’s visit to the bakery, drive-through collection points were established in Oak Park and Bentleigh East, where packs were handed out to anyone in need. And more have since been set up in other location, including in Glenroy and Gowenbrae.
“There was such an outpouring of emotion from Victorians who just thought they had been forgotten,” said Lotzof. “I’ve never seen a community come together so quickly. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever been involved in.”
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