The Instant Brands company, famous for its Instant Pot, donated 2,000 air purifiers to the town of Winthrop after the Methow Valley experienced dangerous air quality for large portions of the summer.
Liz Walker, director of Clean Air Methow, said she cried when she heard the news.
“It’s such a huge step forward for the community,” Walker said.
Walker had been working with her organization for years to educate Methow Valley residents on the dangers of wildfire smoke and to get air purifiers into every home to give residents some sanctuary from smoky days. The 2,000 purifiers donated were more than she could have ever expected.
“This will be enough for clean air in almost one-third of our homes,” Walker said.
Around 7,000 residents live in the Methow Valley.
Instant Brands, usually known for their kitchen appliances, developed the air purifier for market just this summer.
When company executives heard about the hazardous smoke in the Methow Valley, Instant Brand CEO Ben Gadbois said they felt obligated to help out.
“Our executive team talked about a news article comparing the air quality in Winthrop to Mordor from The Lord of the Rings,” Gadbois said in a statement. “We decided to help the people of Winthrop in a small way.”
On Tuesday, three semitrucks from Instant Brands arrived in Winthrop with the air purifiers. They were given away in a two-day, no-contact, drive-thru distribution event on Tuesday and Wednesday conducted by Clean Air Methow and local government.
Walker said she wasn’t sure how many people would actually show up, but there were long lines of residents Tuesday and Wednesday . After a couple of hours of the giveaway on Wednesday, all the purifiers were snapped up.
Some of the purifiers were given to other community groups to distribute elsewhere in the Methow Valley. Anyone with proof of address in the Valley was eligible for a purifier.
The purifiers also came with replacement air filters, which means that residents should have clean air in their homes with these supplies for at least a couple of years, according to Walker.
Walker said that, despite the big step, there’s still plenty of work to do to keep residents healthy in the area.
“Climate change and wildfires aren’t going anywhere, so we still have work to do,” she said.
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