New York, NY—Thanks to the generous donation by Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), volunteers with the East 86th Street Association were able to reach a milestone of distributing 2,500 face masks today for a total distribution of 15,000 face masks over a four-week period.

Nearly half-a-dozen volunteers braved the inclement weather to stand on the northeast corner of East 86th Street and 2nd Avenue to pass out the free masks to passerby, building service, restaurant and cycling workers, as well as taxi drivers.

Andrew Fine, Vice President of the East 86th Street Association,, said that today’s effort was vitally important in raising awareness.

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“Extremely important. We think that awareness had slipped over the summer, and there’s nothing more important than bringing the attention to masking, its effectiveness and its need throughout the community,” said Fine.

He also noted that it was heartening that he and his fellow volunteers have been able to distribute so many masks to date.

“We went into overtime, but we managed to move all 2,500 masks. It took an hour and 45 minutes, but it was worth all the expression of thanks and peace of mind.”

A few of the volunteers on hand today are running for public office.

Rebecca Lamorte, Tricia Shimamura and Billy Freeland, all running on the Democratic ticket, are vying to become the next Councilmember for the city’s 5th District Council Seat to succeed CM Kallos, who is term limited and is currently running to be the next Manhattan Borough President. 

Freeland said he was glad to volunteer his time despite the inclement weather.

“I think it’s really important that we’re all in this together and I think every little can help. If I can just hand out one extra mask to one more person who then keeps their neighbor safe, that makes all the difference in the world."

Similarly, Shimamura noted that she’s volunteered on three previous occasions, and would be happy to do so again.

“It’s a real service, it meets the needs of our community, it’s great to remind them that we still care about this. It’s also a great reminder to them that ‘I’m wearing a mask, and you should be wearing a mask’ and so, we’re all in this together and the only way we get over this pandemic is that we all take responsibility for ourselves and each other to make sure that everybody is safe,” said Shimamura.

And Lamorte said she was pleased with reaching the milestone of distributing 15,000 masks to date.

“It’s been really great. People are taking the masks, and most people, thankfully, already have masks on, so it’s nice knowing that we’re just empowering the community to keep up these good mask-wearing habits,” said Lamorte.

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