US charity donates 40,000 P2 masks to Picton Rotary for fire relief effort

Sweet charity: Albion Park RFS member Kurt Hill travelled to Picton to pick up some of the P2 face masks for his colleagues. Picture: Supplied
Sweet charity: Albion Park RFS member Kurt Hill travelled to Picton to pick up some of the P2 face masks for his colleagues. Picture: Supplied

Around 40,000 Wollondilly and Southern Highlands firefighters and residents will be able to breathe easier thanks to a generous donation from a US charity.

Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid organisation based in California, has pledged to donate up to 500,000 P2/ N95 masks to Australia - with close to 100,000 flown in for free by Qantas earlier this year.

Almost 40,000 masks were delivered to the Rotary Club of Picton last week to be distributed throughout the community.

They'll be shared with those who need them most - including firefighters, patients with chronic conditions at doctors' surgeries and elderly residents in nursing homes.

The Rotary Club of Picton took to its Facebook page to invite locals to come and pick up their masks.

The club said residents and firefighters had already taken advantage of the offer in the past week.

"Picton Rotary has already distributed four pallets of P2 masks to the local community and neighbors," the club posted on Facebook.

"This morning we sent out boxes to a couple of tree lopping companies, Hilltop community meeting, the Australian Wildlife Sanctuary, Bargo Dingo Sanctuary, locals with health issues, Thirlmere RSL and two cartons went to the Kangaroo Valley community."

P2 masks can help to filter out the finer particles in smoke.

They can help to reduce exposure to smoke and the associated health affects.

Rotary District Governor Dianne North hands masks over to Picton RFS Inspector David Stimson.

Rotary District Governor Dianne North hands masks over to Picton RFS Inspector David Stimson.

Rotary District Governor Dianne North gave thanks to Direct Relief, which will be making further shipments of masks in the coming weeks.

"Direct Relief undertake humanitarian work around the world, and they've reached out to Rotary due to its great network of clubs around the nation," she said.

"The masks will help communities dealing with the hazards of smoke and poor air quality caused by the unprecedented bushfires in south eastern Australia.

"We requested 10 pallets for our district's fire relief effort, and these arrived in Picton on Thursday, where we have a storage facility available.

"Already we've handed out some of these masks to the Balmoral RFS station and recovery centre, and to the Albion Park RFS control centre.

"The rest will go to places like doctors' surgeries and nursing homes, and to those involved in the clean-up efforts."

A Direct Relief representative helped hand out the masks.

A Direct Relief representative helped hand out the masks.

Ms North encouraged other businesses, groups or individuals in need of the masks to contact her on 0429 774 363.

Wollondilly residents can pick up their free P2 masks from Storage Express, 455 Argyle St, Picton.

Locals must bring evidence such as a bill or their licence to prove that they live in the region.

Local is defined to include Balmoral, Hilltop, Colo Vale & surrounding shires.

Recipients can get up to six masks, people after larger quantities must contact the rotary club directly.

The Advertiser has reached out the Rotary Club for further comment.

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