Second mask giveaway again attracts hundreds

by CAROLINE LOBSINGER
Staff Writer | July 26, 2020 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — There was a crowd of about 50 people or more waiting for the city of Sandpoint’s second mask giveaway on Friday.

While it took a few minutes to sort through the congestion, with one Sandpoint Police officer at both the eastern and western entrances to Travers Park parking lot, those who showed up for the giveaway had nothing but gratitude and appreciation.

“Thank you,” said one driver before she drove away, a packet of five reusable, washable masks in hand. “I appreciate you all so much.”

Another, after asking for — and receiving a second packet of masks for her parents — told Sandpoint Police Sgt. Mike Hutter they were thankful for the city helping keep them safe.

While each exchange only took a minute of so — most of the drivers told the police officers they appreciated them taking the time on a hot Friday afternoon to hand out the mask, offering support for the department and the city for making the masks available.

“We support our police,” said one man before driving away. “We thank you for what you’re doing.”

Friday’s mask giveaway was the second such event by the city, with Friday’s giveaway following one the week before. At each event, 3,000 masks — five in each of the 600 packets — were given away. Response was so strong during the first giveaway on July 17 that the 3,000 mask were gone in just over 90 minutes, forcing the city to cancel a planned afternoon giveaway.

However, due to the overwhelming community support and demand, Sandpoint officials immediately placed a second order for masks and planned another giveaway.

City officials said both giveaways were positive, with people waiting for their turn in line — some walked up, some rode bikes and others drove.

Like the first giveaway the week before, Friday’s process was quick, streamlined event — once the early congestion was cleared — with vehicles entering through the east entrance to the parking lot and drive out through the west entrance with little-to-no backup traffic.

Participants were allowed to pick up bundles for their friends and family, resident or non-resident of Sandpoint.

Although a few businesses identified themselves, it was primarily individuals who showed up — sometimes with a family member, sometimes alone.

For some, while they prefer not to wear a mask, they said they wanted them on hand for when they are required to have one on.

“I can’t find a decent mask to wear and if they’re passing out regulations masks, then I’ll give it a try,” said Susan Gazdik. “I haven’t been wearing one unless it’s absolutely required like at the clinic or something.”

Gazdik said she found many masks she tried to be uncomfortable and made it hard to breathe.

“I think it’s nice that they’re passing out free masks,” Gazdik said. “I applaud that because it’s hard to know where to get them. And there’s so much information and contradictory reports about everything and frankly, I don’t believe in it, but if I’m required to wear one, I’d like to have it.”

Caroline Lobsinger can be reached by email at clobsinger@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @CarolDailyBee.

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Sandpoint Police Sgt. Mike Hutter presents a bicyclist with a pack of masks during the city of Sandpoint’s second mask giveaway on Friday.

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(Photo by CAROLINE LOBSINGER) Sandpoint Police Sgt. Mike Hutter presents Sandpoint resident Erik Daarstad with a pack of masks during the city of Sandpoint’s second mask giveaway on Friday afternoon.

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(Photo by CAROLINE LOBSINGER) Sandpoint Police Sgt. Mike Hutter presents an area resident with a pack of masks during the city of Sandpoint’s second mask giveaway on Friday afternoon.

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(Photo by CAROLINE LOBSINGER) A line of drivers make their way through the parking lot at Travers Park on Friday to receive a packet of five reusable face masks during Sandpoint’s second mask giveaway on Friday afternoon. Pictured is Sgt. Mike Hutter.

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(Photo by CAROLINE LOBSINGER) A Sandpoint Police officer waits as area residents driver up during the city of Sandpoint’s second mask giveaway on Friday afternoon.