National Guard delivers 200,000 masks to Hilo

  • Photos by Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Members of the National Guard load surgical masks onto a truck after a helicopter landed on Friday in Hilo. The masks will be distributed across the county to low resource communities.

The Hawaii National Guard on Friday in Hilo dropped off a delivery of 200,000 surgical masks donated by Every1 Hawaii.

Every1 Hawaii, a nonprofit based in Oahu, took action to get masks made in China to the state. With the help of a few donors, Hawaiian Airlines made the trip to pick up masks and bring them to the islands.

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The National Guard used transport helicopters to distribute the masks to the neighbor islands throughout the week.

“After realizing how important masks were during the pandemic, we knew we had to come up with an idea,” Kuhao Zane, volunteer with Every1 Hawaii, said. “We wanted to find the best way to get masks to all the underserved communities in the state.”

Every1 Hawaii is working with Vibrant Hawaii to help circulate masks across the Big Island to charitable organizations as well as deliver to areas that have the most need.

“In less than 24 hours, we had 59 islandwide organizations make requests for masks,” Janice Ikeda, community leader at Vibrant Hawaii said. “There’s at least 50,000 individuals we know of that need masks today.”

The goal for Every1 Hawaii and Vibrant Hawaii is to get the masks to vulnerable and resource-limited individuals as soon as possible.

Vibrant Hawaii made it clear that organizations such as churches and shelters will be receiving only the amount of masks that can be used presently.

“These masks are not meant to be stockpiled,” Ikeda said. “We want these out in the community in the next two weeks.”

After the first batch of masks is distributed, Hawaii Island will receive 10,000 donated cloth masks as a follow-up.

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“I think masks are going to continue to be important even after the pandemic,” Zane said. “They may just be something that is essential for everyone from here on out.”

Email Kelsey Walling at kwalling@hawaiitribune-herald.com

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