Last week 20,000 washable face masks were distributed in St. Charles Parish – a feat made possible by a generous donation from Hanes American Clothing Co.
“We are extremely grateful to the Hanes American Clothing Co. for its donation to the state that enabled us to pass out 20,000 masks to St. Charles Parish residents,” Parish President Matthew Jewell said. “There are certain situations that merit individuals to wear a mask, and when those occasions arise, I encourage everyone to wear them properly by having the mask cover both your nose and mouth and continue to follow all CDC guidelines.”
Samantha de Castro, parish director of communications, said the one-time donation was part of a total of 2 million masks Hanes has donated to the state of Louisiana during the coronavirus pandemic. She said at this time there are no plans for a future distribution.
While many residents praised the local government’s efforts to distribute the masks in an organized and timely fashion, others were vocal in their annoyance of the traffic the distribution created and the fact driver’s licenses weren’t checked in order to prove parish residency.
‘With only 20,000 masks and 50,000 plus residents, we did our best,” de Castro said. “We had a tremendous response to this event.”
Cars started lining up at 11:30 a.m. for the distribution, which was advertised to begin at 1 p.m. Masks were handed out at Destrehan High School and Luling’s Edward A. Dufresne Community Center:
“Significant traffic congestion at both locations forced us to start handing the masks out sooner than we initially planned,” de Castro said. “To not protect those handing out the masks and to keep the line moving, we did not check I.D.s for residency … a number of neighboring parishes were handing out their allotment of masks on the same day and did not check for I.D.s either.”
Luling resident Steven LeBlanc said he didn’t understand some people’s need to complain.
“Bashing our parish president and whoever was involved in making this happen is silly,” LeBlanc said. “I mean given the circumstances of everything going on, I think they did a fantastic job distributing the masks … please cut our parish officials some slack … they’re doing the best they can through all of this.”
Luling resident Fran Zeringue said she anticipated traffic and a long line to get the masks, and the experience wasn’t more of a hassle than it was worth.
“I find it hard to criticize an organization that is giving us such an essential thing for free,” Destrehan resident April Ball said. “I’m sure the traffic was an inconvenience for some, but from my experience it was flowing pretty well … a small inconvenience for a few people for a short time for such a generous and needed thing.”