Boston-area Muslim groups collect protective masks

The kitchen crew at Mazzeo's Ristorante in Pittsfield, prepares dozens of take out orders, Tuesday, May 19. Mazzeo's Ristorante had to reinvent their business during the COVID-19 outbreak to accommodate safety measures and takeout, converting dining space to their evolving system. The take out business is thriving and they have been able to keep their staff employed. (Ben Garver/The Berkshire Eagle via AP)

BOSTON (AP) — Two Boston-area Muslim groups have collected 40,000 face masks they plan to distribute to first responders, police officers, nursing home staff, medical workers and others on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in a statement Wednesday said the initiative is taking place in the holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims are encouraged to perform acts of charity.

The project, led by a group of local Muslim physicians, obtained the masks through a fundraising effort.

“As Muslims, we’re humbled to be able to live out our faith by serving our neighbors,” Wael Alkhairo, executive director of the Islamic Center, said in a statement. “We’re called to both pray and take action when we witness a need, and during the holy month of Ramadan in particular, it’s our duty to do everything in our power to ensure the safety of those around us.”

Patriots honor veterans

The New England Patriots and the New England Revolution are planning to plant a flag garden near Gillette Stadium to honor some of the state's residents who have died in the service of the nation.

The Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund usually plants about 37,000 U.S. flags on the Boston Common every Memorial Day to honor state residents who have died in wartime dating to the Revolutionary War, but this year's event was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The organization instead asked people to plant flags on their lawns or post flags in their windows.

The Patriots and Revolution's foundations in response will gather volunteers on Thursday to plant more than 2,500 flags to honor the men and women from Foxborough who have lost their lives defending the country.

Social distancing will be enforced during the planting process.

Birthday party controversy

Some residents of a Boston suburb are calling on the president of the City Council to resign for holding a birthday party for her 21-year-old daughter that appeared to violate restrictions on large gatherings and social distancing guidelines.

More than 130 people have signed an online petition calling for the resignation of Malden City Council President Jadeane Sica, according to a story in The Boston Globe on Wednesday.

Critics say the party — which included a DJ and was held in the parking lot of a restaurant — drew about 50 people.

Sica, in a lengthy Facebook post, wrote “I am guilty," and admitted some people might have gotten too close, but said the party drew mostly family and a few friends and lasted only about 30 minutes. She said police responded and reminded people to observe social distancing guidelines.

Ambulance convoy

A convoy of 50 ambulances is scheduled to leave UMass Medical Center in Worcester on Wednesday afternoon on its way to Fenway Park to honor paramedics and emergency medical technicians who have been working harder than ever during the pandemic.

The convoy is a celebration of EMS Week and will be led by a state police escort and UMass Medical Life Flight helicopter. The convoy departed at 1:15 p.m.

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