A furniture company in Leominster, Massachusetts, will donate thousands of masks to keep poll workers safe.
Leominster City Clerk Katelyn Huffman is counting on her election volunteers this year more than ever. But with concerns over COVID-19, coupled with budget constraints, she had to think outside the box to keep those poll workers safe.
"I've had some people drop out because of that, and I've had people call with concerns," Huffman said.
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So Huffman approached local furniture manufacturer AIS.
Back in March, the Leominster-based company had converted one of its production lines to sewing face masks -- eventually recruiting more than a thousand volunteer seamstresses in 47 states, in a nod to "Rosie the Riveter," to increase production.
"We started providing the police department, the fire department, the emergency center, and it just grew from there, said AIS CEO and President Bruce Platzman.
To date, AIS and its corporate sponsors have donated almost 150,000 facemasks.
"When I let them know I just didn't have the budget for what they had, they actually reached back out and let me know that they realized this is a problem that's widespread, and that they wanted to actually help and donate the masks instead," Huffman said.
Now AIS is working with the office of Secretary of State William Galvin to provide masks to clerks in all 351 cities and towns, who need them for poll workers.
And this mission is personal for Platzman.
"My mom's a great example. She's 85 and she's a poll volunteer in Sharon," he said.
Fellow longtime elections workers, like 30-year volunteer Margaret Woovis of Leominster, say these masks are vital for them and voters.
"It shows that we have a company that really cares about those of us who are going to be working and meeting the public and making sure that everybody has the opportunity to cast a ballot," Woovis said.
Platzman says AIS projects it will deliver more than 20,000 facemasks to city and town clerks for their poll workers by Election Day.