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Austin Latino Coalition starts new initiative, delivering PPE supplies to low-income minorities

Folks with the Austin Latino Coalition say they've been busy delivering masks and other PPE to families in Central Texas.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Latino Coalition is now delivering personal protective equipment (PPE) right to your doors. It's a new initiative started after getting many questions about PPE distribution, and the group specifically delivers to families in the geographic locations that have a high number of cases and positivity rate. 

The reason why the coalition is focusing on the Latino community is that the group has been impacted the most by the coronavirus. As of Tuesday, the coalition reports that 232 Latinos have died after contracting COVID-19. To put that number into perspective, there have been 484 COVID-19 deaths in Austin as of Tuesday. 

The Austin Latino Coalition Coordinator Paul Saldaña said the coalition volunteers are busy, but it's something they know they have to do and there's still a lot of work to be done.

"We wanted to make sure that if there were people in our community who needed access to free supplies that they felt comfortable reaching out to us," said Saldaña. "I think still what's going on is there's a lack of trust within the Latino community, especially our undocumented immigrant community. I'll be honest, we deliver to some undocumented family members within our community. I think they're comfortable with Latino organizations that they know and trust."

The coalition created a new form that families can fill out if they need free PPE supplies. Saldaña said after KVUE aired the special "Building a Better Austin," they received many emails and calls from people who didn't realize this service was available for low-income families. 

"We now have about 70 volunteers, and that's another thing I love about our Austin community. In every event that we've had, we've never had a shortage of volunteers," said Saldaña.

"It's very eye-opening, very shocking because seeing people similar to me from the Latino community, being Latino myself, is very shocking," said Austin Latino Coalition volunteer Omar Gomez. 

Gomez said if he's available, he'll always volunteer with the coalition because he realizes that his community needs him.    

"I'm a big believer in strength and numbers. I think if you're even thinking about wanting, it means that you want to volunteer. So I definitely encourage you to make it out," said Gomez. 

Saldaña said the coalition organizes all the logistics, bilingual promotion and sets up the events with staff and volunteers providing the bags of PPE. The bags include a combination of cloth and disposable masks, hand sanitizer and bilingual information. 

The coalition started these events in June and does them two or three times per month. To date, it has served more than 15,000 families.

"We're all volunteers. We all have full-time jobs and we have families. So we're doing this on a volunteer basis. We have been doing this since April. We've started our first events in June, but we have been volunteering for over 35 weeks," said Saldaña  

The coaliton is now planning its next event, which may be Dec. 12. It plans for the event to be a place for PPE distribution, flu shots and COVID-19 tests. 

You can follow them on Facebook for more updates. 

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