MONTVILLE, NJ – When nine New Jersey kids saw the need for nursing home residents and hospital patients to be able to communicate with loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic, they formed a non-profit to make that possible.

Colin and Grace Volpe are freshmen at Montville Township High School. Colin said his aunt is a nurse in Massachusetts who is working with both COVID and non-COVID patients, and with the current “no visitors allowed” policy, things are pretty lonely for patients.

“Nurses were using their personal phones so that patients could talk to their families, but it was pretty dangerous for COVID patients,” mom Mary said. “At my cousin’s hospital, they got a grant to purchase technology for the patients, and my kids and their cousins modeled a fundraiser off of that idea.”

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The kids formed a fundraising group called the “Cousin Crew,” and started a GoFundMe campaign designed to purchase technology for patients. Ranging in age from nine to 18, the “Cousin Crew” is composed of kids come from four families around the state, including Colin and Grace; Jack, Katie and William Higgins of Martinsville; Jules and Joey DiNuzzo of Hillsborough; and Emery and Morgan Gayeski of Bridgewater.

“We purchase iPads and Samsung Galaxy tablets,” Colin said. “We’ve purchased 80 so far with the money we’ve raised.”

Colin said they’ve been calling around to ask if hospitals and nursing homes are interested in receiving the tablets, and interest has been extremely high.

“They’ve been beyond thrilled to receive them,” Mary said.

The group has been able to raise almost $6,000 so far, and each shipment of 40 tablets costs about $2,500. The 80 tablets have been distributed to the following facilities:

  • The Chelsea Senior Living at Montville (Montville, NJ)
  • Chilton Medical Center (Pompton Plains, NJ)
  • Morristown Medical Center (Morristown, NJ)
  • University Hospital (Newark, NJ)
  • The Arbor at Laurel Circle (Bridgewater, NJ)  
  • Hackensack University Hospital (Hackensack, NJ)
  • Overlook Medical Center (Summit, NJ)
  • Newton Medical Center (Newton, NJ)
  • Hackettstown Medical Center (Hackettstown, NJ)
  • St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center (Paterson, NJ)
  • RWJ University Hospital, Somerset (Somerville, NJ)
  • Peconic Bay Medical Center (Riverhead, NY)
  • Eastern Long Island Hospital (Greenport, NY)

“An administrator at a hospital in Newark started crying when we called her to offer our donation,” Mary said. “She had seen first-hand how lonely many of the patients were and how desperate they are to speak to their families. It’s a lonely time. We’re doing the best we can to spread the technology around. Sometimes, family is the best medicine.”

To donate to the Cousin Crew’s project, go to Cousin

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