BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - When the local Chinese American communities in Berkeley Heights and New Providence learned of the shortage of personal protection equipment for healthcare and frontline workers in the Greater New York City area, they responded in a big way.
"When the virus first started to spread, the frontline workers were the most vulnerable and most of them fell ill soon after because of insufficient protective equipment. To win the battle against the virus, the frontline workers must be protected," said Han Wu, Principal of Berkeley Heights Huaxia Chinese School.
Out of the appreciation of the great communities we live in, we decide to take action and make contributions, he said.
"Words cannot describe the gratitude the Township of Berkeley Heights feels for your collective efforts to help our first responders," said Mayor Angie Devanney. "They are on the front line and when residents take the time to do something so selfless, it lets them know what they do matters to the community." Mayor Al Morgan agrees, "We are eternally grateful for this incredible support. Thank you!"
On March 20, 2020, through social media, four local Chinese American organizations announced the combined fundraising effort aiming to provide support to the frontline workers: New Providence Chinese Community, Berkeley Heights Huaxia Chinese School, Berkeley Heights Chinese Community, and Summit Free Library Chinese Club. "Within the week, through the generous donations from over 150 families, we were able to raise over $20,000 and collected hundreds of N95 face masks from people’s garage and thousands of medical masks mailed in from their families or friends in China," said Wu.
With the funds raised, volunteers actively seek resources from their connections and verify manufacturers’ credentials and FDA certifications, Han confirmed. "From medical supply warehouses in New York and Pennsylvania, we were able to locate and purchase additional 500 KN95 masks, 200 coveralls, 200 safety goggles, and most recently 9000 medical masks -- with more facial masks on the way from China."
"The fundraising effort has always been about supporting our community," he said.
All the PPEs were donated to the local frontline/essential workers at Overlook Medical Center, Morristown Medical Center, New Providence EMS, Berkeley Heights EMS, Summit EMS, Summit Grace Project, ER doctors and Anesthetists who live in town. "Through EMS, many supplies went to nursing home/long term care facilities, senior communities, essential businesses and people in need. Additionally, many donations went to Summit families in need through churches and public housing authority," said Wu.
"We are only a small group of local residents, but we are all part of this community and want to contribute to the battle against the virus. We are in this together. Stay strong and stay safe," said Wu.