Eric Wang ’21, tackles the PPE shortage during the COVID pandemic while adapting to the changing needs of various communities.
This summer 25 students were accepted in the CSGC grants program. These grants are funded due to the generous support of the Cost, Earle/Mendillo and Workman families, who established endowment funds to support the community and public service endeavors of future generations of Deerfield students. For more information on these grants please visit: https://deerfield.edu/csgc/grants.
Shielding our Defenders was created in late March at the height of the personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Our initiative responded to issues that we had read about in the news, and this principle of engagement with the real world is at the core of our identity as an organization. Throughout April and May, we raised funds through a GoFundMe page. We used these funds to purchase masks from Asia, where the PPE supply was steady as we discovered, and donated them to hospitals in the United States. We extended our outreach by opening branches in New Jersey, Chicago, New England, and the West Coast. Each branch has its own team. Our organization currently consists of 35 members, many of whom are fellow Deerfield students, but some are also students from other schools who reached out to us through social media. We have raised about $36,000 and donated about 20,000 masks to 21 hospital organizations.
As COVID-19 cases began to go down in early June, we shifted our focus to provide help in other capacities. During the initial eruption of protests over the death of George Floyd, we created the Protest Safely initiative to provide masks to demonstrators, hoping to reduce the dangers of protesting and the risk of communal spread. As an organization founded to serve humanity in the face of crisis, we expressed our support for justice and racial equality. We utilized the same networks of procurement but realized we needed to consider how we were going to distribute them. One of our team members in California, Aurelia, had been attending protests, so we sent her 500 KN95 masks, which she distributed. Similarly, Angela’s brother was attending them in New York and helped hand out masks as well. Furthermore, we reached out to some protest-organizers, including Al Sharpton, who is accepting our donations for the March on Washington on August 28th. The picture below on the right was taken at a demonstration in New York. The turquoise boxes in the hands of the women wearing a black mask are surgical masks we provided.
Recently, COVID-19 cases have spiked again, especially in the Southern states. In response to this, we have started a branch in the South. They have raised funds to send over 1,500 KN95 and surgical masks to hospitals in Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida.
We are very grateful for the generosity of the Cost family and the Deerfield CSGC. The grant money was used to help pay for a shipment of 2,000 KN95 masks, made by Powecom, an FDA-approved manufacturer. Deerfield and its community have shown incredible support towards our organization beyond its very generous monetary contributions and us. As a team, we are deeply moved and would like to thank all our donors, guidance mentors as well as Instagram followers for helping us build, run, and spread our initiative.