SPRINGFIELD, NJ — For Springfield Resident Samantha Kestin, a chance connection through social media has turned into a project to help medical workers on the front lines battling COVID-19.
Kestin spoke with TAPinto Springfield, and talked about her efforts to provide for medical workers have grown, and the support she has seen from the greater Springfield community.
"This happened unintentionally," she said. "I had posted something on Facebook, [asking] if anybody locally has a spouse or family member who is working in the front lines, let us know what we can do for you […] and one of the Springfield nurse’s husbands contacted me on Facebook, and said ‘I’d like to send a bagel platter to my wife. She works with the COVID patients on the eco-cardio floor in Overlook Hospital.’"
Henry Carvallo is the husband of Yvette Carvallo, a nurse who works on the eco-cardio floor at overlook hospital. When Kestin spoke with Carvallo she was determined to help him out.
"I was like okay, green light, let me help you," she said. "I posted something on Facebook, just on the Springfield pages … and I said, if you can just put five or 10 towards it, let’s get something going for a breakfast for these nurses."
What she could not have forseen was that the request to help with a simple bagel breakfast would turn into something much bigger.
“We talked once a lot of money started coming in, and I said, ‘hey, let’s take this further.’" Kestin said. "The bagel breakfast is all fine and good, and we should still do that, but maybe we can find supplies for these people, because seemingly that’s what they need even more than food.'
"So we started to do a little research and I found a lot of things online … and we just started making purchases. The largest purchase that we need is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday was the first order. It was $600, and it was 150 surgical masks, 150 N95 masks, and that order did come from overseas."
Some of the many supplies curated by Kestin include 1000 shoe covers, 500 surgical masks plus an additional 400 arriving soon, a mix of 300 surgical and N95 masks, 70 pairs of protective eyewear, 1,400 nitrile gloves with an additional 500 pairs for first responders, 400 head covers, 20 plastic face shields 150 mini bottles of hand lotion 11 two-way baby monitors to see patients, and a weekly bagel breakfast to help keep the staff morale up.
Of the initial $3,600 in donations, approximately $800 is left in the coffers. Kestin said she will use that money to continue her goal of protecting medical personnel and first responders.
For Kestin, the work has also been helpful, as she found herself temporarily out of a job as a non-essential employee. She said that pouring her efforts into this project has allowed her to find a sense of purpose and direction amid the chaos.
“Being the organizer, I feel like, has been a humbling experience for me, and to be honest, it’s also helped me, just as an individual who’s out of work because my business is stopped […] I feel like putting my efforts and energy towards something good for the community has really assisted me to find productivity and positivity in my own life, to focus on where I can help, instead of a stressful situation and how awful things are everywhere.
“Even if we’re just helping a few people to make a difference with extra protective equipment, even if you’re helping protect the 20 nurses on this eco-cardio floor and that’s all we can do, it’s helping someone.”
Additionally, Kestin thanked the Springfield community for their generosity in donating, and said she was blown away by the support she got.
“[It’s] amazing,” Kestin said. “I’ve had people that have texted like ‘hey’ I’ve lost my job and all I can give is five dollars, so here you go, I hope this helps. There’s power in numbers, so I really believe that even small amounts from lots of people makes a huge difference. And then there are other people that have given super generous donations. You know, $50 donations, $100 donations and say ‘if you need more, let me know.’"
Kestin added, "But I think it’s just heartwarming and amazing to see people rally together and doing what they can. And that’s what’s most important … if there’s x amount of thousands of people in the community, and everyone just gives a couple dollars, it does ad up and it does become something helpful.
"I realize we can’t help the entire hospital, I realize we can’t feed the entire hospital, so I’ve sort of “adopted” these 20 nurses on this floor."
Kestin also said that when the money for the bagel delivery runs out, she will continue to pay for it herself as a thank you to the nurses. Residents who wish to donate to the collection efforts can do so by reaching Kestin's Venmo online under the following username: @Sweet-samantha.