By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
PLYMOUTH – Following its international motto “service above self,” members of the Plymouth Rotary Club went to Miami to pick up re-useable cloth masks for the public and are offering them for free this weekend thanks to “a generous donation.”
The masks will be distributed to people in vehicles at a drive-up Friday through Sunday outside the Habitat Restore at 583 Tenney Mountain Highway, Plymouth. The limit is six masks per vehicle.
Volunteers will be staffing the “Mask-Up NH” campaign from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday, and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Donations will also be accepted to help local charitable efforts but the masks are free to anyone.
Steve Rand and Alex Ray, members of the Plymouth Rotary Club, flew to Miami Monday picked up a van and 67,000 cloth masks at a warehouse, then drove non-stop to New Hampshire in 25 hours. Rand said they are not self-isolating because they had virtually no contact and only stopped for gas and a snack. He also said the masks were made more than two weeks ago and should be safe.
“It was fun,” said Ray, who owns the Common Man Family of Restaurants and is donating the cost of the masks to the public.
Rand said Ray’s “giant donation” promotes the Rotary motto of “service above self,” in that the masks are about protecting others from you not the other way around.
He said the masks, which should be washed before use, protect others from those who may be asymptomatic but carrying the virus or who may be sick. These masks are unlike Personal Protective Equipment N95 masks worn by health-care providers that protect them.
These masks have been in short supply not just in New Hampshire, but around the world during the pandemic.
On Thursday, Gov. Chris Sununu, Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Pam Powers, inventor Dean Kamen, and members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation were scheduled to meet a plane in Londonderry to unload over 110,000 pounds of Personal Protective Equipment from a FedEx cargo plane at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. It was the largest shipment destined for New Hampshire to date.
Kamen made arrangements for the shipment, the third such landed supply, using his contacts in China and FedEx.
The state of New Hampshire purchased the entire shipment of PPE and will be distributing supplies to the areas of greatest need across the state as part of its ongoing effort to respond to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Roughly 4.5 million masks on the plane will be sent to the Veterans Administration for their distribution and the VA will reimburse the state.
In Plymouth, the cloth masks for the public will be distributed from the Common Man Trolley – repurposed as the “MaskMobile” – outside the Habitat Restore on the Tenney Mountain Highway, which is also State Route 25.
Donations are encouraged at the MaskMobile and online at MaskUpNH.com or the Plymouth NH Rotary Facebook page for more information. In Plymouth, donations from Mask Up, New Hampshire! will go to a designated fund of the Plymouth Rotary Foundation, a 501(c)3 charitable organization.
Donations will be used to support local charitable and service organizations, including local mask-makers, food banks, Meals on Wheels, and others who are serving the Plymouth community.