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Unsung heroes of the pandemic receive free PPE in Santa Barbara County

Posted at 6:38 PM, Feb 19, 2022

Thousands of COVID- 19 test kits, as well as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies, were handed out to childcare providers in Santa Barbara County today.

The organization, Children’s Resource & Referral, held its 11th distribution event to hand out free pandemic essentials to local child care providers. They said it was an opportunity to thank and support the unsung heroes of this pandemic.

“During this pandemic, our backbone to the essential workforce has been childcare," said Chief Operations Officer, Jacqui Banta. "When the K-12 system was closed, childcare was who we relied on."

It was an early morning with cars and more cars lined up ready to receive their bags full of PPE. Each child care program received adult N95 masks, children’s masks, hand sanitizers, and for the first time COVID-19 tests. Essentials during this pandemic that many child care providers didn’t have access to.

“The providers have been paying for them themselves to get COVID tests, masks, and hand sanitizers," said CEO of Children's Resource & Referral, Michelle Graham.

“As daycare providers, as you know, we don’t make a lot of money. We do it because we love the children and we love the families in our community, and so for them to be able to provide this for us, it really means a lot," said Laurel Penk.

Organizers of the event say it’s a gesture of support and care for child care providers that have been working around the clock throughout this pandemic.

“It’s not just your, you know, nine to three schedule. These family childcare providers are serving children at five in the morning, they’re serving children on 24-hour cycles, they’re serving children on the weekends," said Banta.

Helping not only the providers but families as well.

“It helps them to be able to know their children are well taken care of and that there is a lot of health and safety going on in our programs," said Penk.

The nonprofit also had another distribution today in the city of Santa Barbara. In total the nonprofit was able to distribute 24,000 COVID-19 tests throughout the county.

Children’s Resource & Referral were able to provide the free tests and PPE with the help of Santa Barbara County Public Health and the California Department of Social Services.