LIVINGSTON, NJ — Like many non-essential stores, Livingston’s Camp Stuff 4 Less was forced to close its doors as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak; but in addition to offering online shopping during the health crisis, owner Lori Stern is also selling homemade face masks in an effort to give back to the community.
Despite facing a potential loss of income due to the closure and the uncertainty of camps being able to open this summer, Stern said she and her husband/co-owner, Andrew, are committed to protecting people during the pandemic by providing the masks at no profit.
“We very much felt that we didn't want to profit from something people needed for their safety,” said Stern.
While Stern was devising a strategy to obtain and distribute these masks, one of her salespeople—North Caldwell resident Dana Goldstein—was simultaneously discussing potential bat mitzvah projects with her 12-year-old daughter, Logan.
Earlier this moth, Goldstein’s brother, Dr. Josh Fiske, battled a severe case of COVID-19 that inspired Logan to help sell face masks from Camp Stuff 4 Less in order to raise funds for local first responders to assist in their battle against the coronavirus.
Logan has since sold about 1,000 masks with Camp Stuff 4 Less and has raised more than $7,000 that has been distributed between several organizations for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) for their employees. Logan personally distributed local mask orders, while Camp Stuff 4 Less shipped out masks that were ordered from out of the area.
Organizations that have received donations thus far include Saint Barnabas Medical Center; the first aid squads in Caldwell, Short Hills and West Orange; the North Caldwell Police Department; Daughters of Israel Nursing Home; Overlook Medical Center; Short Hills Surgery Center; Newark Beth Israel Medical Center; Clara Maass Medical Center; Toni’s Kitchen; and Comfort Zone.
Fiske, who recently acknowledged his niece’s efforts when he was interviewed on NBC’s “Today,” explained that he coordinated Zoom conferences between Logan and each of these organizations so that she could describe her project and announce the amount that she was able to raise for them.
“During Logan’s Zoom call with the Short Hills Surgery Center, they informed her that they’ll be buying every member there an n95 mask with her money,” Logan's mother said. “I think it’s important to acknowledge the success of this project was really from the outpouring of support by such a generous community (and extended community) all looking to give back and rally around a great cause. And, of course, the masks were not just very stylish, but very practical.”
She also noted that this wasn’t her daughter’s first foray into volunteer work, explaining that Logan has also previously collected used soccer equipment for children in Haiti and is also involved in various community events.
Logan added that the volume of masks she’s been able to sell has presently surprised her.
“I never really thought that we could make such a difference in my community,” she said. “But now that we have, I’m so grateful that I was able to have an impact during such a scary time.”
Camp Stuff 4 Less also has a long history of giving back to the community, including donating a percentage of sales to local schools and or baskets of merchandise for fundraising events throughout the area.
“This was a labor of love for Logan [and Dana] and for me,” said Stern. “It was about giving back to the first responders in our community.”
Stern also acknowledged another piece of the puzzle, which included West Orange resident and former Livingston resident Amy Wolkstein.
As one of Stern’s regular vendors, Wolkstein agreed to sew the masks on behalf of Camp Stuff 4 Less. Working “24/7 to get masks to customers, friends and family,” Stern said that Wolkstein was able to sew about 800 masks within the first week of this endeavor.