SOLEDAD — The City of Soledad hosted a free mask distribution and Census Pop-Up Drive-Thru at the South County YMCA building on Sept. 3.
The crowd was smaller than earlier mask drives at Soledad High School’s parking lot, where cars were lined up into the streets.
“Yesterday’s mask giveaway along with the Census was great, as volunteers were able to help residents complete the Census forms,” said Anna Velazquez, a city council member for Soledad.
Interim City Manager Brent Slama said the smaller turnout was probably in part to people being used to masks after months of health guidelines. However, for those who were still in need of masks, the drive was there to distribute the respiratory component of essential personal protective equipment.
Slama said the drive was the result of a request from the city council. Council members Velazquez and Carla Strobridge-Stewart both requested more distribution points by the city in reaction to the new ordinance requiring all people in the city to wear masks in public. Any future drives would be a matter of council request.
In addition to the recent drive, masks have been made available through the Little Free Food Pantry locations in Soledad. Masks have also been available for free to the public at City Hall, but Slama said lately the city hasn’t received many requests there.
Recent drives had masks bundled into bags of 10, but the recent mask drive saw cars getting one mask per car, which Slama said simplified distribution and also reduced staff and volunteer contact with the masks.
“This was an opportunity to get people more engaged with the Census,” Slama said about the Census component of the drive. “With the deadline looming, we definitely want to get the word out.”
People were able to get help filling out forms online while at the drive. There were six volunteers present to help anyone who needed assistance.
In addition to the Census personnel, also present were three officers from Soledad Police Department, staff from the city’s public works department and council member Velazquez.