HUNTERDON COUNTY, NJ - The Chinese American community in Hunterdon County has been collecting and donating Personal Protective Equipment to hospitals, nursing homes, emergency medical services and policemen during the crisis.

"We have seen so many doctors and nurses in China get sick and die from this disease," Dr. Hua Zhu, a member of the Hunterdon Chinese American Community, said in a release. "We want to prevent this from happening in the U.S. They need protection. They need it now."

The community has been using a social media messenger platform called WeChat to form a group chat in response to the COVID-19 charity and support.

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"We knew when the virus hit the U.S., there would be a big shortage of PPE," Zhu said in the release. "So we started buying supplies from China, where manufacturing is finally ramping back up."

According to the release, they spent hours devoted to finding suppliers, studying their qualifications, communicating with liaisons and coordinating the shipment and customs import process. Zhu's former classmates who are doctors in China helped communicate with suppliers and checked the PPE quality before it was shipped out, the release said.

As of April 16, the group has collected $5,800 in cash, and direct donations of medical supplies worth more than $4,000, including 800 N95 masks, 1,650 surgical masks, 600 medical masks, 650 regular masks, five bottles of hand sanitizer and four boxes of disinfection. The cash collected was used to get 2,000 N95 masks, 3,000 surgical masks and 100 face shields.

The release said that Zhu's former classmates from Peking University Medical School (doctors in different Chinese hospitals) sent over a donation of 5,000 N99 and 2,000 surgical masks, and 16 hazmat suits. Other friends in Seattle, the release said, sent over 163 KN95 masks, 10 medical masks, 30 regular masks and 95 hazmat suits.

The first donation was made to Hunterdon Medical Center, and additional donations were given to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, St. Peter's Hospital, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Matheny Scholl/Hospital.

In addition to hospitals, the Chinese American Community has donated to organizations like nursing homes and police stations, and mailed regular masks directly to Hunterdon County residents.

"When I was driving on the streets through Frenchtown distributing masks to police stations and rescue squads, a random lady who was in her yard offered me beautiful flowers," Zhu said in the release. "Although I was not able to accept the flowers because they would dry out by the time I arrived back home, her warmth and kindness without expectation of return was so touching that tears came to my eyes. These are the loving people in Hunterdon County. Hunterdon County is our home. We are willing to do anything for our home and for our people."

The Hunterdon County Chinese American Community is regularly giving out regular masks for free, two per family. Call 908-236-7800 to schedule at pickup at 1390 U.S. Highway 22, Suite 201, Lebanon, NJ 08833. Masks can also be mailed to the home.