Two of us Chavez Park Conservancy volunteers, Sheila Jordan and I, staffed a table in the park Sunday morning and gave out free face masks. Between 9:30 am. and 1 pm, 98 of the cloth masks found takers. We heard many expressions of gratitude, both from people who took masks, and from some who had masks on and were annoyed at others who did not wear them. We made it clear that the masks were free, no strings attached other than the ear loops, but one man insisted on leaving an unsolicited $10 cash donation on the table for the Conservancy.
Early on, quite a few people were not wearing masks, but as the day warmed, mask wearers greatly outnumbered the barefaced. Among the minority who were not wearing masks, almost all took the masks with thanks and put them on immediately. A few took the masks and play-acted putting them on, or put them in their pockets. There were a handful with lines like “I have one in the car” or “I have one in my pocket.” Very few shined it on and refused the mask offer. We also saw some cases where people put their own masks on when they saw our table with our sign; it jogged their memories or their consciences to get with the program. Among the people who took masks and put them on were some of the runners and bicyclists.
We saw clearly, all in all, that we were having a positive effect in getting more masks on more faces in the park.
Unlike the paper masks we handed out on May 23, these were soft cotton, washable, and very comfortable, most people agreed. They were purchased on amazon.com for 62 cents apiece with Chavez Park Conservancy funds. The masks were made in China, and delivered three days after the order was placed. The masks are not medical grade and are just designed to contain droplets of moisture that people expel from nose and mouth when they talk, sing, cough, or sneeze. In other words, their main utility is to protect others. Wearing masks is a sign of concern for others.
Several people wanted to know whether this free mask distribution was done by the City or the County. We made it clear, as did the banner over our table, that the effort came from a local private nonprofit, the Chavez Park Conservancy.
People also asked whether we would be back tomorrow, or every day, or what our schedule was. One person offered to volunteer at the next distribution, whenever. We have not set a schedule but our experience suggests that there is a need and a demand for additional distributions.
In staffing the table, we wore masks and gloves, and positioned the table with the wind behind us to protect us from unmasked people approaching the table.