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Local jeweler designs "Badge of Honor" for frontline workers

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Gennaro Jewelers of Bellmore, which celebrated its 97th year in business on May 3, has been honoring frontline and essential workers since its return from a 10-week closure due to the pandemic.

In addition to offering free jewelry cleanings for frontline heroes, owner Gary Hudes designed a unique — and free — “Badge of Honor” for them to display on their uniforms or work attire.

“Soon after we had to shut down on March 21, I’m watching the news and seeing these incredible stories on what the frontline workers were doing to help those in need,” said Hudes, who joined the staff at Gennaro’s in 1979 and soon became a partner. “I thought about what I could do to recognize and honor these people going above and beyond the normal call of duty, so I designed this pin, or badge as I’m calling it, and hired one of my vendors to produce 2,000 [of them].”

The badge is approximately one and a half inches by one inch and features the American flag as the base. On top of the flag is a circular logo with gold, black and white coloring. Hudes said the black enamel represents those lost to the coronavirus virus while the white enamel represents the purity of the “good guys, the heroes.”

Hudes is asking frontline workers to stop by the store themselves, show identification to pick up their badge and take advantage of the free cleaning offer. “With all the soap and hand sanitizer everyone is using, that stuff can get under diamonds and other jewels and needs to be properly cleaned,” he said. “Our staff also wants to thank frontline workers face to face for everything they do.”

Hudes said he ordered the badges well before Gennaro’s partial reopening during Phase Two in late May so they would be available for when customers were allowed to reenter stores. “We’ve had a bunch of calls about the badges already and a handful [have been] picked up,” Hudes said.

Gennaro’s front window features signs honoring essential workers, replacing the usual jewelry displays. Hudes said the business would continue to display the signs thanking doctors, nurses, hospital workers, EMS, law enforcement, firefighters, grocery store workers and pharmacists through the end of summer.

Gennaro’s is open six days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and is closed on Sundays. All work is done on site in front of customers under CDC safety guidelines.