OCEAN COUNTY, NJ –   Two local nonprofit organizations received a helping hand thanks to Korean American benefactors on Tuesday afternoon.  Leaders of the Ocean County YMCA and the 21 Plus, Inc. both welcomed the donation of thousands of face masks.

Minsun Kim, President of the Korean American Heritage Museum, led the initiative in response to the nationwide scrimmage for PPEs. Minsun first determined she could get her hands on some high-quality masks manufactured in Korea.

The next step was finding a place where the masks were needed.  Minsun decided to reach out to a congressman she met a couple of years ago. Although they share the same last name, Minsun and Congressman Andy Kim (D-NJ-3) are not related.  Minsun said she was aware the congressman was active in the House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.

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Congressman Kim told Minsun he could think of multiple locations that would benefit from the masks. He identified the Ocean County YMCA as actively serving the community, and 21 Plus as providing programs for area developmentally disabled individuals.

Ambassador Chang Won-Sam, South Korean Consulate General, joined the efforts to secure the masks from overseas.  He, Congressman Kim and Minsun Kim personally delivered the boxes of masks at two informal presentations on Tuesday. The Ocean County YMCA received 3600 face coverings, of which some can be washed and reused. 21 Plus was the recipient of 3,400 masks.

“I am just glad that we were able to make this connection for the people of Ocean County,” said Congressman  Kim. “I am grateful to help in the efforts to keep people keep safe.”

Ambassador Won-Sam spoke on the solidarity between South Korea and the United States.  “A friend in need is a friend indeed,” he summed up.  “This gift represents our partnership and our commitment to charity.”

The Ocean County YMCA serves 700 families meals on a daily basis. The organization intends to distribute the masks to staff members, families in need, and participants in the childcare program.

“The masks are frontline,” said Peter Rosario, Ocean County YMCA President, and CEO. “At the Y, we preach that masks are critically important.  We are very grateful for the gift.”

Rosario said that he already worked with Congressman Kim in the past regarding the need for a waiver program for the community.  Many locals have needed food assistance even prior to the onset of COVID.

Diane Hutton-Rose, Executive Director 21 Plus, Inc. accepted the donation on behalf of the organization and expressed her gratitude.  She said the group had experienced a shortage in obtaining PPEs, especially when the virus was at its peak in New Jersey.

Congressman Kim has pushed for several measures related to the coronavirus crisis. His call for an additional federal testing site in New Jersey was turned down.  Testing sites in the state can take several days to process, which makes contact tracing a difficult task.

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