NEW MILFORD — Several years ago, New Milford Hospital donated cases of masks, gloves and booties to help the Village Center for the Arts put on the Paint the People event.

This week the center passed that gift on and donated 1,100 medical masks to help meet the shortage as hospitals across the country fight the increasing coronavirus cases.

“They helped us when we were looking and we returned the favor,” said Jayson Roberts, the organization’s co-founder and studio director.

The center held the Paint the People event for five or six years, but hasn’t put it on for a few years now because of a lack of funding. The supplies were put in storage where they were out of mind until this week.

Like many places, the center was closed to prevent the spread of the disease. Roberts saw this as a good opportunity to organize and clean out the organization’s supplies. As he was moving boxes, he saw cases of medical masks and called New Milford Hospital to see if the staff could use them.

He brought 11 cases to the hospital on Monday and another case to Village Crest Center for Health & Rehabilitation, where his dad lives.

“They were so appreciative,” Roberts said.

The masks, which have an eye shield with them, will be used by greeters at the door, administrators and food servers. They aren’t the appropriate type for those treating patients, Roberts said.

“I’m hoping they’ll use them the best way they can,” he said. “They’re going to go through them like water. It’s not like a lifetime supply.”

The Village Center for the Arts is also looking to put out fabric with instructions so people can sew masks to donate as well. Staff members are still researching tips and the type of fabric that works best.

They’re also planning to put out creativity care packages so people can continue to make art while at home and keep creativity going.

“It’s just doing what we need to do,” he said. “Our whole objective is to give back.”