Members of Greenfield Fire Department and Soledad Police Department pass out bundles of face masks to local families 
as they drive through Soledad High School’s parking lot April 23. More than 10,000 masks were distributed that day. (Photos by Sean Roney)

SOLEDAD — Thousands of face masks were recently handed out in the form of 10-mask bundles to South Monterey County families during a free mask distribution at Soledad High School.

The April 23 distribution was the final event organized by Families and Friends of Stevenson School, which hosted earlier events throughout the northern parts of the county. Altogether, the group has passed out an estimated 100,000 masks in the month of April.

At least 10,000 facemasks were handed out last Thursday in Soledad.

“It just worked out best to have it at the high school where we were used to doing it anyways,” said Soledad Police Chief Damon Wasson, who noted the school’s large parking lot and experience with the weekly food bank distributions as a good choice for the mask distribution.

Wasson said the department was not notified about the event until the prior Tuesday, but his officers made plans immediately.

The event was scheduled to last from 4 to 5:30 p.m., but long lines formed well before the start prompted a much earlier beginning at 3:20 p.m. Wasson said the size of the line at two miles long, the heat and the fact people were sitting in their cars all contributed to the decision to begin early.

In addition to Soledad Police, Greenfield Police Department, Greenfield Fire Department, Tony Virrueta, high school staff and members of the Stevenson group provided assistance during the local distribution.

“Their idea to start this whole thing was to help not only first responders but also help the citizens that didn’t have access to masks or couldn’t get masks or couldn’t afford them,” Wasson said about the Stevenson group’s genesis for the handout events.

Volunteers from Stevenson School in Pebble Beach put together the bags of masks, which also included a small sheet that read, “Together we will overcome.”

“This was absolutely amazing, for them to reach out to us and offer 10,000 masks for all the folks down here, where you can’t find these masks anymore,” Wasson said.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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