Rotary Club continues Million Mask Challenge

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FISHKILL — The Hudson Valley Rotary visited Dutchess County to continue the second part of their “Million Mask Challenge,” distributing 3.5 million PPEs thus far between two tours as they travel across the New England area in their 26-foot, Rotary Million Mask Challenge Tour wrapped distribution truck.

This leg of the tour started in Dutchess and continued to Harlem and Staten Island on Thursday. The entire endeavor was put together within three weeks, from start to fruition.

At Dutchess Stadium, distribution of 150,000 adult surgical masks, between 18,000 and 20,000 children’s masks and 5,000 KN95s – approximately 175,000 masks in total, were provided to 35 local Rotary clubs which, in turn, will distribute them to local small businesses, community members in need and others in the community.

Hudson Valley Rotary Chapter 7210 District Governor Anthony Marmo said this operation has been a complete success.

“We’re extremely pleased to be part of this program helping many needy people and not-for-profit organizations, first responders, fire departments, EMS providers, community centers, food banks, homeless shelters all with this important PPE as we try to battle this pandemic,” he said.

Marmo added its part of their ethos as members of the Rotary Club to help the community.

“That’s what Rotary is all about. We’re about serving people and serving those in need and helping those less fortunate. Really, now more than ever, people should be helping each other,” said Marmo. “We understand there’s the reasons to self-isolate and quarantine, but that doesn’t mean that there are significant means out there that still need to be met,” he said.

Ted Rossi of the Rossi Foundation, also employs the spirit of the Rotary Club. He facilitated the effort through his connections with overseas distribution and initially started the effort as a “Million Mask Challenge,” but continued after witnessing the effort’s overwhelming success.

“I’m a Rotarian and that’s what we do,” said Rossi. “It was a project that I took on when the pandemic began because of my contacts in the business I’m in in the far-east. We had the ability through our team to procure the PPE and to arrange the logistics, which were extremely difficult to arrange and continue to be and I started with a small distribution back in March/April. We saw how successful it was and we got the other rotary clubs involved,” he said.

Rossi asked that his personal monetary investment not be made public because it would detract from the real purpose of the effort. 

As of Thursday, the “Million Mask Challenge” has made stops in Dutchess County, New York City, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine. They have intentions to start a third tour, but it has not been announced.