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Masks donated to community members by the NAACP

Community members were able to get free N-95 and surgical masks on Thursday and Friday as part of a distribution event held by the Pearl River County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Friday’s event was held at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Picayune.

Rev. Jimmy Richardson is the president of the Pearl River County chapter of NAACP, and along with other members of the organization Richardson helped organize and host the event.

During the two-day event, interested parties drove through the church’s parking lot before stopping in front of the awning where Richardson and other NAACP members held the masks.

The masks had been previously placed in sanitized Ziploc bags and were then handed to the occupants of the vehicle.

Each bag contained two surgical masks and two N-95 masks, all of which came free of charge.

Richardson said each occupant of the vehicle received one bag.

However, if a community member said they had an elderly relative or friend in need then an additional bag would be given to the occupants of that car.

Thursday, a similar event was held in Poplarville at the Triumph Baptist Church. Both events lasted from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

“We serve Pearl River County and the country as a whole. We’re serving everybody because the NAACP is multicultural,” Richardson said.

Richardson said at both locations there had been a steady stream of community members take home some of the 1,500 masks that were available.

The reason the events took place in Poplarville and Picayune is because the cities’ location in Pearl River County would allow people living in nearby communities to still come out and take advantage of the event.

“You can’t go to all the communities so we picked a central location where everybody can come, and it’s been a mix today of black and white, and that’s what we want to see,” Richardson said.

The masks themselves are not only hard to purchase because of the pandemic and how it’s affected production, but also because of the cost.

N-95 masks are not easy to come by, which is why the NAACP stepped up to fill the community’s need for personal protection equipment.

“A lot of people right now are out of work and can’t afford it, so it’s important for us to get out in the community and let the community know that not only are we praying for them, but we’re also working to try to help them bring down the numbers and flatten the curve of COVID-19,” Richardson said.

Richardson said approximately 1,000 masks had come from

the NAACP’s state office in Jackson, with another 2,000 coming from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

It’ll take some time to get more masks, but the hope is for more events like this to take place in the future, possibly as soon as next month.