Mayor Dana Ralph of Kent, Washington (l) and SmartAID volunteer Trang Le handing the first box of donated masks to a local boy, kicking off the Millions of Masks for Children initiative. (Paul Christian Gordon/SmartAID)

Israel-based humanitarian group kicks off Millions of Masks for Children initiative in Washington State, aiming to protect US kids against Covid.

By Abigail Klein Leichman, ISRAEL21c

Israel-based humanitarian organization SmartAID kicked off a unique US initiative, “Millions of Masks for Children,” in Washington State.

In partnership with shipping company DHL and Washington-based PPE manufacturer FLTR with warehousing support from SEKO Logistics, SmartAID is distributing a million FLTR facemasks to kids served by 15 childcare and youth programs throughout the state, including refugee and tribal communities.

“At SmartAID our core mission is to harness the power of innovation, data and technology, and our extensive network of partners to save lives, alleviate suffering and empower communities to live the kind of life they value. It’s absolutely critical to protect children from Covid-19 by providing masks. Washington State is just the start,” said Shachar Zahavi, founder and CEO of SmartAID.

Millions of Masks for Children is the brainchild of Zahavi and SmartAID volunteer Trang Le.

“By supporting childcare organizations, we’re providing the support that parents and families need to be able to focus on getting back to work during this chaotic time,” said Le, who is also a volunteer with Restart Partners.

“We were fortunate to connect with Trang Le and Shachar Zahavi with Millions of Masks for Children and quickly realized our partnership could create immediate impact in Washington State and beyond,” said Jason Lemelson, chief executive officer of FLTR.

“We believe this initial donation is the start of something much larger and look forward to continuing to help in any way we can.”

According to Zahavi, nearly 280,000 American children have been diagnosed with Covid-19 since March 2020. During the first week of December, 112,000 children were diagnosed — a record number since Covid started, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“This extremely generous donation of a million child-size face masks will help keep everyone in our state safer, from our essential childcare providers to the families of children in their care,” added Deeann Burtch Puffert, CEO of Child Care Aware of Washington.

Zahavi said Utah is next. “Our goal is to reach all 50 states,” he said.