More than 200,000 PPE non-surgical masks were delivered to volunteers of the Salvation Army and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn Thursday morning to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to volunteers and those they serve.
The masks were obtained by the Life Preservation Initiative (LPI) a coalition of 10 non-profit organizations from around the city supporting the fight against the spread of COVID-19. The group delivered the masks Thursday morning to the West 14th Street headquarters of the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army will accept 120,000 masks while another 80,000 will be given to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn for their volunteers in food pantries, officials said.
Councilmember Peter Koo of Flushing Queens who helped with the effort, met with The Salvation Army and the Roman Catholic Church officials as they received the donation and hailed the effort as a strong step against the spread of COVID-19 and protecting both volunteers and their guests.
“There are so many volunteers here in a food pantry where they help so many people and so they need many masks because they can only use them for one day,” said Koo joking that he was happy to be on hand and away from City Council Zoom meetings. “They provide a vital service that’s so important to the community.”
The masks will be provided to more than 2000 corps employees and volunteer in community centers, men’s and family shelters, and their social services programs throughout the Greater New York area, officials say.
Major Lurlene Diaz, Divisional Director for The Salvation Army Greater New York Division, said, “While we are primarily going to be giving masks to our staff, we will also be providing them to our guests who lack a mask.”
Diaz said they are currently feeding 250 people a day, four days a week at 14th Street. Another agency serves out of the same location on Fridays, she added.
“In the beginning, our volunteers were serving without any protection for the first 10 days of the outbreak because we couldn’t get them as the masks were going to health care workers first,” Diaz said. “We had a lot 0f people that we serve come down with coronavirus, but we did have three people in leadership, including my husband, come down with it – we don’t know how he got it. In our shelters we had some staff come down with it, but they were fine after quarantine – it didn’t break out. our adult rehabilitation centers were on lockdown right away. Unfortunately, we had some extended family members who died.”
“Some masks will go to the guests, some just don’t have access to them,” Diaz said.