WALLINGFORD — A local barbershop has raised more than $3,000 for first responders and emergency room staff at MidState Medical Center in Meriden.
“It was just my way of giving back,” said Dino Fernicola, owner of Dino’s Modern Barbershop. He sold 200 t-shirts from his Center Street shop and is splitting the $3,375 raised between the town police and fire departments, and MidState.
The donations will be presented to representatives of the three organizations at 9:30 a.m. on August 26 at the shop.
Fernicola usually runs a fundraiser for first responders out of his business during Celebrate Wallingford, however the annual festival was canceled this year due to the pandemic.
Neighboring business Shirt Graphix offered him a low rate on the shirts to help with the effort. Fernicola had the 200 shirts created with the barber shop’s logo and “#ThankYouFirstResponders” printed on them.
“I have an amazing clientele and they're very generous,” Fernicola said.
While his barbershop was closed during the state shutdown, Fernicola raised money to have Amici Tavern in North Haven and Cafe Amici in Hamden send food to Wallingford police and MidState.
“I do it because that's what I love to do...to help out and be active in the community,” Fernicola said.
As surrounding businesses and his clients heard about the food donations, they joined in as well, ultimately sending meals to the Wallingford Fire Department, two shifts of emergency room staff at Yale New Haven Hospital, Regency House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, the Cheshire Correctional Institution and the Meriden Police Department.
“He's been very supportive of our efforts and the fire department — public safety in the town,” said Wallingford Police Capt. Richard Homestead.
The donation to police will be used to buy food and supplies for the canine unit and maintain and expand the bike patrol.
Fernicola said in past years the fire department has used the donation to buy smoke alarms, which are given to residents.
Since the coronavirus outbreak began, police have seen a surge in donations, Homestead said. One woman even paid an ice cream truck to park in front of the station and serve officers.
“We appreciate the partnership and the support we get, not only with the citizens of town, but the business owners ... we rely on them to do our jobs better,” he said.
MidState’s emergency department is currently working with its philanthropy department to determine how to best use the donation to benefit patients.
“We have so much gratitude for Dino Fernicola. He’s beyond generous and he’s been showing his support for frontline workers since COVID-19 began,” said Director of Nursing Michelle Diaz. “We fully understand that many businesses are dealing with difficulty due to the pandemic, and the fact that Dino was able to raise this money and is donating... to MidState’s Emergency Department and first responders in Wallingford is beyond amazing. His kindness, and the kindness we’ve seen from so many people in the community over the last several months, means the world to us.”