Lions partner with Austin Brothers to distribute sanitizer

Courtesy Photo Alpena Lions Club member Mike Hamilton poses with Elizabeth Cavanaugh at the Alpena Senior Citizens Center as he distributes hand sanitizer.

The Alpena Lions Club and Michigan Lions District 11-E2 recently completed their distribution of hand sanitizer throughout the eastern part of the district. Two hundred gallons of hand sanitizer were distributed to eastern District 11E-2 clubs who then distributed locally in their area to places in need. The Alpena Lions Club distributed a total of 79 gallons of hand sanitizer to first responder departments, assisted living centers, senior living apartments, skilled nursing facilities, shelters and support organizations.

District 11-E2 was approved for and received an LCIF COVID-19 Emergency Grant of $10,000 for the purpose of producing hand sanitizer and the Alpena Lions Club partnered with Alpena-based Austin Brothers Beer Company and Grand Traverse Distillery in Traverse City to produce and bottle the hand sanitizer for distribution.

Austin Brothers produced the beer, which was then transported to the Grand Traverse Distillery to be distilled and made into hand sanitizer that met World Health Organization standards for hand sanitizer. The hand sanitizer was then transported back to Austin Brothers where it was put in one gallon plastic bottles and labeled with ingredients, alcohol content, etc. Alpena Lions Club members then collected the hand sanitizer, labeled with its Lions Clubs International logo labels, to be distributed.

The original grant application presumed Austin Brothers could produce the same amount of hand sanitizer, 400 gallons, as did Blake’s Hard Cider in Armada for District 11A-2 downstate. However, after some research, Austin Brothers found it would have to purchase a large “still” — at a considerable expense that it would not have a use for afterward — to be able to produce that kind of a volume of hand sanitizer. After additional research it found that Grand Traverse Distillery was already making hand sanitizer and willing to partner, for a fee, if Austin Brothers provided the beer to be distilled into alcohol.

This required Austin Brothers to buy back the “old” beer that its distributors were storing due to the COVID-19 related lockdown. This was still an additional expense for Austin Brothers, but it was willing to assume the additional cost knowing it would be able to sell their distributors “fresh” beer after the lockdown was lifted. The Lions agreed to a reduction in volume from 400 gallons to 200.


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