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Agricultural workers line up for free masks and sanitizer

The goal was to hand out 150-200 thousand masks during the event. They are materials that are crucial for keeping those on the front lines of this pandemic safe.

HILLSBORO, Ore. — When you look at recent outbreaks of COVID-19, they center around workplaces like factories and farms.

It's a major reason why immigrants and agricultural workers have been hit disproportionately hard by the virus.

But events like the one that took place at Tualatin River Farm this week are helping to change that.

One by one the cars and trucks drove into the farm, and one by one boxes were loaded into each vehicle.

Tualatin River Farm, which normally grows and delivers native plants across the community, hosted the event that provided free masks and hand sanitizer to agricultural producers and farm workers. Florentine Salazar of Salazar Berry Farm made sure to thank those who were passing out the materials.

"Thank you so much for holding this thing," he said.

"I think it's absolutely wonderful," said Wanda Love of Love Farm. She knows masks are critical to keeping her farm running.

"They're for our workers," she said. "We have workers who work out in the field and they're for them and our family, our kids work out there, so for everybody we're being safe."

The giveaway was sponsored by several local organizations including Washington County and Oregon State University Extension Service.

"We're really close to the [agriculture] community... and we're happy to help anyway we can," said Vicki Campbell with OSU Extension Service.

The goal was to hand out 150 to 200 thousand masks during the afternoon-long event.

They are materials that are crucial for keeping those on the front lines of this pandemic safe.

"If they shut down, you don't have people picking crops that are ready to harvest," said Campbell.

Those agricultural workers who were not able to make it to the event will still be able to get free masks and hand sanitizer. All they have to do is reach out to Washington County clean Water Services and they will deliver them.

"It's really important because farming right now, especially if you're a small farm, we're not as huge as we used to be," Love said. "It's a struggle, so it's really important, really important... it helps a lot."

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