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Whiskey company CEO battles price-gouging on N95 masks, organizes team to send supplies to frontline workers

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Reports of price-gouging for essential supplies used to protect against the coronavirus have been making headlines across the country. Those supplies often include the N95 face masks, commonly used by health professionals who are on the front lines battling COVID-19.

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Fawn Weaver, the founder and CEO of Uncle Nearest Whiskey, saw the risk this was creating for health care workers and took action.

“I thought, 'Let’s just pay the high prices of the N95 masks,'” explained Weaver. “Because it’s more important to keep these people alive, that are on the front lines, than to go back-and-forth over pricing. And we literally bought as many as we could find.”

“It's been amazing to see who is in our whiskey family, and really give them back something meaningful,” said Uncle Nearest Whiskey CEO Fawn Weaver.

“It's been amazing to see who is in our whiskey family, and really give them back something meaningful,” said Uncle Nearest Whiskey CEO Fawn Weaver. (Uncle Nearest Whiskey)

Weaver initially bought $40,000 worth of masks from different manufacturers from all over the world, with the intention of delivering them to those who need them most. In fact, Weaver and the Uncle Nearest team have already delivered more than 1,000 masks to health care workers in New York, Georgia, California and Tennessee. They’re not stopping there.

“We've got another shipment of 5,000 that is on its way,” said Weaver. “The second it hits the distillery, it's going right back out because we have requests for every single one.”

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Weaver is prioritizing sending masks to the front lines. She’s instructing those who work at medical centers or hospitals that treat COVID-19 patients to email her their mailing addresses, along with a picture of badges or business cards that identify their place of work. The Uncle Nearest team then takes it upon themselves to get those N95 masks out as soon as possible.

Weaver said it's also been an eye-opening experience, especially after learning of certain groups that couldn't get masks.

“I’ve learned that some places weren't giving masks and protective gear to anyone outside of doctors, and the top nurses, because that's all they had,” explained Weaver. “So then you have all of these orderlies and folks getting sick because they're running around the hospital where nobody is protected...I've also gotten requests from fire chiefs and police chiefs, and I mean, all of these people are on the front lines.”

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Weaver established Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey in 2017, with a business model highlighting diversity and an inclusive work environment. But she often says the company is about more than just whiskey (Uncle Nearest often uses the hashtag #morethanwhiskey in its social media posts), and amid the coronavirus crisis, she’s continuing to prove Uncle Nearest is really more than whiskey.

“It's been amazing to see who is in our whiskey family, and really give them back something meaningful,” said Weaver. “We’re actually going to send you something that we hope, we pray, is going to keep you alive. I don't think many people get to do that in their lifetime, so to be able to do it is really remarkable.”

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⁣⁣Emily DeCiccio is a reporter and video producer for Fox News Digital Originals. Tweet her @EmilyDeCiccio