National Cathedral canon missioner credits 'blessings and miracles' for discovery of 5,000 respirator masks

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Washington National Cathedral canon missioner the Rev. Canon Leonard L. Hamlin Sr. joined "Bill Hemmer Reports" Thursday to discuss the recent discovery of 5,000 respirator masks, which have been donated to local hospitals treating coronavirus patients.

Hamlin explained that the masks were originally purchased during the 2006 bird flu pandemic, but were then placed in storage and forgotten about. He credited Joe Alonso, a longtime stonemason of the Episcopal Church, for finding them just as Washington D.C. saw an upswing in confirmed coronavirus cases.

"This is where you are really grateful for institutional knowledge as well as everyone working together," Hamlin said. "When the story came about and the situation of the [coronavirus] crisis began to rise, he [Alonso] remembered the cathedral purchasing masks several years ago. If it was not for his memory..." Hamlin said before trailing off.

After confirming with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the masks were still safe to use, cathedral staff packed up 13 boxes with 3,000 masks to deliver to Georgetown University Hospital. The remaining masks were packed in nine boxes and distributed to Children's National Hospital.

"It is really one of the great blessings and miracles, you would say. It's so timely that these masks were purchased back in 2006 when the bird flu was being talked about," Hamlin said.

"We are thankful that they were able to get into the hands of the front-line workers who we know now, of course, are dealing with all parts of the community," he added.

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On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence thanked the cathedral for their donation on social media, writing: "Thank you to the @WNCathedral for donating 3,000 N95 masks to @MedStarGUH and 2,000 N95 masks to @ChildrensNatl. This crucial gear will help protect our health care workers as they care for the American people."

"We are very much appreciative of the opportunity," Hamlin responded. "There is so much and so many out there who are looking for ways to be helpful."

Fox News' Caleb Parke contributed to this report.