The Solvang Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Collaborative recently distributed more than 30,000 protective masks to small businesses and local agencies in the Santa Ynez Valley to ensure locals mask up and stay safe.

The disposable KN95 masks came from a stockpile of 380,000 masks purchased from Good360 by Northern Santa Barbara County United Way and Eddie Taylor, CEO of United Way, to be disseminated to chambers of commerce, schools and nonprofits agencies throughout the North County. 

Community members in the Santa Ynez Valley, along with 30 nonprofit organizations that support over 200 businesses, received the masks on Feb. 27, 28 and March 1. 

The Los Olivos and Santa Ynez chambers obtained 3,000 masks that will help a number of local business owners, according to Solvang Chamber Executive Director Tracy Beard. 

In partnership with Toyota of Santa Maria, Santa Ynez Valley schools and city departments also benefited from the extended weekend distribution, where KN95 masks — best suited for adults and older students — were given out, and three-ply masks were designated for younger students' use.

031121 Solvang Mask distribution 1.jpeg

Santa Ynez Valley Stuart Gildred YMCA staff receive a supply of disposable medical and KN95 masks for staff and patrons.

Beard explained that KN95 masks work exactly like N95 masks and are an equivalent, filtering out 95% of particles in the air and capturing particles that measure 0.3 microns in diameter.

"Although the COVID-19 virus is still technically smaller in size, the mask is considered a significant advantage in preventing it from entering the mask wearer’s system," she said. "New information suggests we should use masks with filtration as opposed to cloth masks."

Further lending a helping hand were Solvang community leaders and business owners.

031121 Solvang Mask distribution 3.jpeg

Tracy Beard, Solvang Chamber executive director, and former Councilwoman Joannie Jamison are on the move delivering masks to local businesses and nonprofit agencies.

Mayor Charlie Uhrig and Solvang Councilman Jim Thomas assisted with delivering over 10,000 masks to local schools and Solvang nonprofits, Beard said, adding that mask recipients received a Protect and Respect Campaign poster.

Beard thanked David Rasmussen of Rasmussen’s gift shop who supplied 200 bags for delivering posters, Aaron Petersen of CHOMP restaurant who offered the pickup location, and several local volunteers, including former Councilwoman Joannie Jamison, for coming together to help meet the needs of the local community.

"We are grateful to Eddie Taylor [for including] the Solvang Chamber of Commerce in the program," Beard said. "We really appreciate his partnership."