"Right now, we view this as our civic duty."
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Desert Door Hand Sanitizer
Credit: Desert Door/Facebook

As it strains the fabric of everyday life, the coronavirus pandemic is making heroes out of ordinary men and women.

Judson Kauffman, co-founder of Desert Door Sotol Distillery in Driftwood, Texas, is one of many small-business owners doing what he can to help during the COVID-19 crisis. This isn’t the first time Kauffman, a Navy veteran, has felt called to serve. Though his service looks a bit different now, it’s still essential.

Desert Door, which Kauffman owns with two other veterans, has turned to producing hand sanitizer that is being donated to first responders, retirement centers, and health care workers throughout Texas.

"Right now, we view this as our civic duty," he told Fox & Friends. “There is only a small number of organizations in the United States that have the equipment required to make hand sanitizer. We are one of those organizations and so we viewed it as an obligation to serve the community.”

“We see the first responders out there, many of them coming to our distillery to pick up hand sanitizer and they are very afraid, but they still have the courage to get up every day and go and risk their health and in some cases their lives to do what’s right,” Kauffman continued. “What has always made this country a great place to be is when times are tough, people come together, people step up and we’re just part of that culture.”

Kauffman said that he and his co-founders first started to discuss making hand sanitizer a couple of weeks ago. But they couldn’t act until last week, when the federal government lifted restrictions on distilleries making and distributing the healthcare essential. “So, as of last Wednesday, we have stopped making booze and we’re strictly making hand sanitizer and giving it away to those who need it,” he told Fox & Friends. You can donate to their GoFundMe campaign here.

Desert Door Sotol Distillery started by distributing their hand sanitizer to first responders in Austin but have since given away thousands of bottles across the state, including to the Houston and San Antonio police departments, a hospice care group, as well as sheriff’s departments in several counties. They plan to keep making it until some of the big producers are back on track.

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With the distillery’s tasting room shut down, Kauffman told Fox & Friends that making hand sanitizer is a great way for the team to stay busy, adding that they needed a purpose. “We’re doing our part in the community and we feel like a lot of other folks are,” he noted.

“We’re following the lead of organizations and individuals across the country who normally don’t see themselves as leaders necessarily but have stepped up and shown courage and are doing what they can and this is our small way to do what we can,” Kauffman explained.