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Local Chinese restaurant HE Group donates more than 200 containers of sanitizer to police

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Another Middletown business is stepping up to donate sanitizer to first responders who need it to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

Howard Dong, owner of the HE Group Authentic Chinese restaurant at High and North Union streets, donated a case of about 200 bottles, each 12 ounces, to East Pennsboro Township police on Wednesday. He said he is working on having 2,000 more bottles of sanitizer available to be donated by next week. 

Dong said he had the sanitizer because he was planning to open a third restaurant. Those plans are on hold for now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What he donated is not hand sanitizer, but sanitizer used in the restaurant industry to clean countertops, equipment and other surfaces.

“We believe we will be safe if the people around us are safe. So, we are not only helping others but also helping ourselves during this pandemic,” Dong told the Press & Journal.

Besides Middletown, HE Group has a second restaurant on Cameron Street in Harrisburg. Dong would not say where the third location might be.

Dong first reached out to Middletown Police Department to see if it wanted the sanitizer. 

Interim Police Chief Sgt. Dennis Morris said his department has enough sanitizer for now, but that he had been contacted by East Pennsboro because that department was in need.

"It looks like it's a good deal, I just have to find out if it is diluted or not,” said John Bruetsch, public information officer for East Pennsboro Township.

Police should be able to use the substance to sanitize any surface their hands come in contact with, in order to help prevent spread of the coronavirus, he said.

"It's terrible trying to get anything,” Bruetsch said. "We have trouble getting N95 masks. Of course everybody wants them. We are doing the best we can with what we've got."

He said the township appreciates Dong's donation.

“A lot of people are stepping up,” he said.

East Pennsboro personnel picked up the sanitizer from the Press & Journal offices on Wednesday. Dong had reached out to the Press & Journal to help with distribution of the sanitizer.

In regards to hand sanitizer, Morris said each Middletown police car is stocked with at least two bottles of it. Another 20 to 30 bottles are in the station.

“We don’t want to take more than what we need when others don’t have any,” Morris said of hand sanitizer, before it was known that what Dong was donating was for use on surfaces and not hands. “Our emergency medical services is good, our fire department is good.”

Morris didn’t know of any other departments in this area in immediate need of hand sanitizer. East Pennsboro was the only department he had heard from with such a need.

Tattered Flag Brewery & Still Works for the past few weeks has been making its own hand sanitizer by mixing a waste product of the distillery process with gel.

Tattered Flag as of Monday had already donated close to 500 gallons of its own hand sanitizer to first responders, companies and individuals.

The company is looking to ramp that up to being in the thousands of gallons by the end of next week. However, Tattered Flag has been getting so many requests for the hand sanitizer that it is getting in the way of production.