A family owned and operated Florida craft distillery is making hand sanitizer at no charge for anyone who brings a bottle to fill.
Copper Bottom Craft Distillery in Holly Hill usually draws customers for its tours and spirits sampling, but it’s now attracting people for a different type of alcohol — the antiseptic kind.
On Wednesday, the family-owned business began producing hand sanitizer and giving it away for free to anyone bringing in their own bottles. Word of the offer spread on social media, and by 6 p.m. they had given away 20 gallons, mostly in 4-ounce pours.
Customers included representatives from a sheriff’s office and a fire department. There were obstetricians, medical clinic workers, school teachers and service industry professionals.
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“We’re just trying to spread some goodwill,” said Jenni Craig, who owns the business with her husband, Jeremy, and his parents. “This is a crazy time going on right now, and we want to do what we can to help.”
Jeremy Craig, who serves as the head distiller, got the idea after watching hand sanitizer disappear from store shelves amid the coronavirus outbreak. When aloe and ingredients fit for homemade germ killers dwindled as well, the Craigs saw an opportunity to give back to the community that has kept them afloat.
Beside a row of craft rum and vodka taps, Jeremy Craig on Wednesday stirred a vat of his potent — but undrinkable — craft hand sanitizer. It’s a blend of 190-proof alcohol, water and the thickening agent xanthan gum. He then squeezed it into customers’ empty bottles with a large syringe.
Among the first in line was Jenlyn Fisher, a Port Orange preschool owner seeking sanitizer for her school. She also purchased a bottle of rum while she waited.
“I want to support people who are supporting the community,” Fisher said.
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Several guests followed her lead. One woman offered snack-size bags of chips for hungry helpers. Other guests purchased T-shirts or donated cash.
Tracie Young of Daytona Beach brought extra empty bottles to share with others.
“I just want to make sure everybody has a little bit,” said Young, who got sanitizer for her air conditioning company’s service technicians. “We can all make it through together.”
Jessica Monroe, a Holly Hill mother of two, offered to deliver bottles of the sanitizing solution to assisted-living facilities and at-risk residents. “I’ll need the help eventually, as well,” she said. “We need to help those who are very scared right now.”
The positive atmosphere stood in stark contrast to headlines about hoarding and images of consumers pushing shopping carts piled high with toilet paper.
Holly Hill City Manager Joe Forte called the efforts of local retailers that have donated food and supplies “the definition of paying it forward.”
“This is an absolutely wonderful and generous offer for the business owners at Copper Bottom to put the needs of the community in front of their own at the time it’s needed most,” Forte said, noting that the Craigs, too, have been impacted by the coronavirus-induced economic downturn.
The Craigs will continue to offer hand sanitizer during business hours — 12 to 7 p.m. through Saturday — while supplies last. To keep it going, they asked for donations of white table sugar, xanthan gum and 4-ounce bottles.
“We’re gonna keep making it as long as we have supplies,” Jenni Craig said.
Copper Bottom Craft Distillery is at 998 N. Beach St. in Holly Hill.
This story originally published to news-journalonline.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.