HERMISTON, OR- For the past week parts of Washington and Oregon have been filled with hazardous smoke.
Even though these are dangerous conditions, many field workers are still having to work outside. A nonprofit called the United Farm Workers Foundation is trying to make sure these workers are protected by giving out N95 masks.
"It's hard with farm workers they aren’t covered with a lot of the protection that other workers are in this state and they are essential and so they are having to work in these conditions," said Briseida Chavez who is the United Farm Workers Foundation's Emergency Relief Organizer.
Through a series of donations, the foundation is able to distribute N95 masks to many workers in need this weekend. Two drives will take place this weekend, the first in Othello on Friday and the second in Prosser on Sunday.
"We want to be there for the workers that are out working in these conditions with the smoke," said Chavez. "It is something we didn’t plan on obviously and to be able to help them means a great deal."
The foundation plans on doing more events in the future, wherever the need is in the lower valley area. They hope drives like these will inspire others to help these workers, who they feel aren't being looked out for.
"They are thought of as essential workers and yet they don’t get afforded the same PPE as other workers in the state," said Chavez. "I'm hoping that people realize that and there is a movement for them to be better protected in the future."
To get text alerts for future drives and events text "esencial" to 877-877 or visit their website.
This weekend's drives are listed below:
- Friday Sept. 18 3:00-6:00 p.m. in Othello, WA at 1490 E. Main St. next to Restaurante Ramirez
- Sunday Sept. 20 Noon-1:00 p.m. in Prosser, WA at 1905 Highland Drive at the Sacred Heart Church
- Sunday Sept. 20 2:00-4:00 p.m. in Prosser, WA at 471 Wine Country Rd. at Harvest Foods