Thousands of facemasks and gloves were given away in the 4th and 5th Wards over the last two weekends.
For the second consecutive Saturday, Ald. Sophia King (4th) and others handed out masks at the CSO Sports and Medical Multiplex, 1301 E 47th St., distributing masks to seniors from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and to the general public from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Former mayoral candidate Dr. Willie Wilson gave away masks on Saturday at the Apostolic Church of God, 620 S. Dorchester Ave., from 9 a.m. to noon.
Last weekend’s efforts focused on “drive up, pick up and go” events, and on direct delivery to buildings that house significant numbers of senior citizens or others with limited mobility.
Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) had organized two events for the May 1 giveaway, one along East 61st Street near the intersection with South Stony Island Avenue; the other along the 7300 block of South Stony Island Avenue.
Wilson provided all the face masks given away during the 5th Ward events. They were part of the one million masks he gave to all 50 Chicago wards on April 28.
“We picked up (the masks) Tuesday morning,” said Hairston as she scanned the line of cars waiting for the giveaway to begin. “I myself bagged, and my staff, and some other volunteers bagged these up, and we are here. You should’ve seen us,” she added.
“We also have delivered to our senior buildings … Park Shore East, Good Shepard Manor, Senior Suite. Montgomery Place is where I am going next. Going to give them 750 masks.”
As Hairston handed a face mask to one driver, he asked if he could have more as he lived in a building with many senior citizens. Hairston looked up and called out to her assistant Lanita Ross to take down the man’s name and his address, so that they could deliver masks later in the day.
The desire for the personal protective equipment (PPE) was clearly demonstrated in the 4th Ward by the long lines of cars and pedestrians that arrived early on May 2, for a distribution at the CSO Multiplex. The line of cars extended out of the Multiplex parking lot and west along 47th Street to South Woodlawn Avenue. University of Chicago Police Department personnel and cruisers arrived to help manage the traffic.
The not-for-profit Who is Hussain, and the roofing company NextGen Roofing, in collaboration with Dr. Simon Liburd and his Body Genesis Sport & Spine Center provided 3,000 of the masks and all the gloves given away during the 4th Ward event. Ald. King brought an additional 3,000 masks, all from among those donated by Wilson.
“Well, this all started, to help my family, my wife’s family in New York, because they couldn’t find any PPE,” said Sajjad Hasan, founding partner of NextGen Roofing, who lives in Edwardsville, Illinois.
In response to his wife’s family’s needs and through his business contacts around the world, Hasan organized a supply chain of masks.
“What we have been doing,” said Hasan, “is we have been helping the community and the medical community get the product here, on a non-profit basis.”
Wali Rizvi, of the non-profit Who is Hussain, which is collaborating with Hasan, said, “Today we are distributing masks amongst the general public. We are trying to give it to the individuals in the hardest hit area. And this way, stop the, prevent the spread of the virus.”
As King handed out masks, she added, “We’re just trying to help get masks to people who need them. We understand the seriousness of this pandemic, how contagious it is, and we want to make sure that the folks who need it the most have the protection.”