(July 24, 2020) To help businesses on the Boardwalk, the Ocean City Downtown Association has given out more than 500 free facemasks and 200 sanitizer packets since July 4, and will continue to do so at the information booth located on North Division and Caroline streets.
“When the downtown association opened the information booth [for] weekends in June, I was feeling very uncomfortable on the Boardwalk because almost no one was wearing masks,” Executive Director Mary Ann Manganello said. “I initially supplied a few of my own, just in case people asked, but we didn’t advertise it because we didn’t know if we could meet the demand.”
Under Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive order, patrons must wear facemasks in indoor facilities, such as restaurants, bars and retail stores.
Manganello said people were either unaware of the requirement, their masks would wear and tear throughout the day or they would come thinking they would stay outdoors all day, but then later realize they needed to go indoors.
To help, Manganello contacted the Worcester County Economic Development, which had created a program of small grants of up to $500 for personal protective equipment (PPE) for small businesses.
She said Lachelle Scarlato, Worcester County Economic Development deputy director, was instrumental in securing the funds.
Scarlato knew about the downtown association because of the contacts her office made during the response planning phase of its covid-19 strategy sessions.
Some of those strategic partners are the Ocean City Development Corporation, chambers of commerce and the association.
“I happen to cover the north end of the county assigned for my role … and in conversation with the downtown association and others it became apparent that the business community was in need of assistance for purchasing PPE at that particular juncture in time,” Scarlato said.
Scarlato spoke with the county administration, and later the county commissioners about directing funds to this endeavor.
“We also run STEM summer camps for high school age students,” she said. “As a result of this season, we were not able to implement those camps in person with the partnerships that we would ordinarily activate, so we took that money that we would generally offer to the STEM summer camps and asked for permission to reassign [those funds],” Scarlato said.
Since late June, Scarlatto said 70 entities have accepted the $500.
“A bit of an unfortunate situation with the summer camps, but it turned into a positive for many in the business community,” Scarlatto said.
Manganello said the association has enough supplies to last until the end of the month, but would be seeking more financial assistance soon.
“We have another 300 masks and 100 hand sanitizers left, which will get us through to the end of the month” Manganello said. “We are seeking additional donations or funding to be able to continue the program through the busy weekends of White Marlin Open and the OC Air Show and on through Labor Day.”
To make a donation, call Manganello at 703-731-6516 and for a mask and sanitizer packet visit the information booth located between North Division and Caroline streets.