FLEMINGTON, NJ – Darin and Brandon Michaels, students at Hunterdon Central Regional High School, knew there was a need to help their community when COVID-19 hit their town hard.

With school moving to an at-home environment and their activities being canceled, they wanted to make better use of their time by helping out.

The brothers worked together and came up with an outreach plan to support their local businesses. The idea was simple – raise money, buy food from their town restaurants and deliver to the frontline healthcare staff at the Hunterdon Medical Center working tirelessly to care for COVID patients.

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But the execution took time.

The brothers meticulously outlined the details and strategized on how to implement. They leveraged their unique strengths and divided and conquered.

Darin’s responsibilities focused on coordinating with the restaurants and the Hunterdon Medical Center. This involved calling restaurants, communicating the idea, determining what to order, budgeting and managing payments.

Darin also worked with the staff at the Hunterdon Medical Center to coordinate units to deliver to and head count to know quantities to order.

On the other side, Brandon worked on the creative design of the logo/business called Links for Life, a promotional flyer and the execution of a marketing campaign. Leveraging social media, and GoFundMe, Brandon was able to generate significant awareness, which helped raise thousands of dollars.

Darin and Brandon have since delivered 75 meals to three different Hunterdon Healthcare locations: Hunterdon Healthcare Urgent Care in Flemington, Phillips-Barber Family Health Center in Lambertville and the ICU and 5 West departments at the Hunterdon Medical Center main campus. Food deliveries thus far have come from Market Roost, Blue Fish Grill and Theresa’s Café in Flemington.

They are continuing to deliver additional meals as they raise more money. For anyone interested, donations are still being collected at tinyurl.com/linksforlife-cf  

"I empathize with the local restaurants and healthcare workers going through these unprecedented times and it’s brought joy to help by giving back," Darin said. "I loved seeing their reactions when I picked up and delivered the food and listening to their stories.”

Brandon said he never imagined that COVID-19 would reach his community.

"When everyone started to panic with food flying off the shelves and patients flooding the hospitals, I knew I had to step in," he said. "The medical staff is challenged daily fighting hard to keep our community together. By helping them out and the local restaurants it was an easy choice to donate. It feels good to now say our community is staying healed and more connected than ever before.”

Debra Dalley, foundation director for Hunterdon Healthcare, said she was impressed with their work.

“When Darin and Brandon presented their campaign “Links for Life” to provide meals to frontline healthcare staff at Hunterdon Healthcare, while supporting our local restaurants, I was impressed with their commitment to help others," she said. "They had a plan, they were organized and set out on their mission. Caring for our community is the heart of what we do here at Hunterdon. The tremendous support we have received from so many is truly gratifying. Folks just want to help and seeing a community come together during such a critical time is simply incredible.”

For information, please call Darin Michaels at 908-246-7171 or email darin.b.michaels@gmail.com