PPE was handed out at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center’s parking lot from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday, July 7. Photo courtesy Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce

PPE was handed out at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center’s parking lot from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday, July 7. Photo courtesy Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce

About 275 Mercer Island businesses received PPE kits at recent distribution event

Distribution was organized by the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce, King County, the city of Mercer Island, Amazon and other Eastside chambers.

Some 275 Mercer Island businesses received Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits July 7 during a distribution event hosted at the city’s community center parking lot.

The event was put together collaboratively by the city’s chamber of commerce, King County, Amazon, the city of Mercer Island and other regional chambers — specifically Redmond’s and Bellevue’s.

About 55,000 disposable and cloth masks, 1,100 bottles of hand sanitizer and Island-specific materials (like a chamber directory, map and cautionary signs for front windows) were distributed. Participating businesses signed up for a pick-up time before the event to ensure small groups would come in 15-minute spurts.

Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce president Laurie Givan said that planning for the event, which lasted 10 a.m.-1 p.m., started last month.

The Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce is part of the East King Chambers coalition. During recent meetings, discussions began around King County-provided PPE, which was soon going to be given to and then planned to be distributed by individual chambers to local businesses.

Givan said that the Redmond (or OneRedmond) and Bellevue chambers were able to “take the lead and coordinate” the details with King County, given their larger sizes.

“It gave me the bandwidth to do it — we’re such a small chamber that we would have had a difficult time picking up and storing and handling over 275 PPE kits,” said Givan of Mercer Island specifically.

OneRedmond connected with Amazon to use one of their Treasure Trucks to store the PPE for distribution on Mercer Island and other Seattle locations. (Sammamish was visited the afternoon of the Island event.)

Before the onset of COVID-19 (coronavirus), Treasure Trucks frequently drove to various regional locales to give out specialized items about which participating customers would receive a text alert.

Through this coordination, King County personnel delivered necessary PPE to an Amazon warehouse. The filled Treasure Trucks then came to Mercer Island. In addition to the vehicle, Amazon also provided a tent, signage and other key markers.

The July event predominantly encompassed chamber members and its board of directors. The city’s small business liaison, Sarah Bluvas, and an Amazon worker assisted as well, Givan said.

Givan said that if there are any left-out Mercer Island businesses still interested in receiving a kit, she recommends they head to the Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s website for more information about distribution. To her knowledge, she said, another Mercer Island visit is not currently in the cards.

Givan said that participating businesses were vocal in their appreciation for the opportunity.

“I heard ‘thank you’ from everybody — ‘this is making a difference for us’; ‘this is valuable,’” said Givan. “99 percent of people said ‘thank you’ several times as we were handing out their bags.”

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