Working Together and Making a Difference

Harry Niles ’21, shares the rewards of co-founding an initiative and making a difference.

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/students/grants.

When I first wrote to the CSGC, my team was hopeful. Hopeful that we would receive a fund that would launch Shielding our Defenders in a direction we dreamed of but never believed would become a reality. I believed that we would be lucky enough to donate 8,000 masks. But once I received 500 dollars from the CSGC, everything changed for the better.

Shielding our Defenders is an initiative founded and led by Mark Chung ‘21, Angela Osei-Ampadu ‘21, Eric Wang ‘21, and me. Together, we have bought over 20,000 KN95 masks, N95 masks, and surgical masks, and we have donated 15,000 of said masks to over 20 hospitals. Our initiative has created branches in many territories of the United States, including New York, New England, New Jersey, Chicago, the West Coast, and the South. Across all of our fundraisers, our initiative has raised over $35,000.

With the money our team has received, we were able to launch our initiative in many new directions. The $2,000 total that our group received went towards buying a shipment of approximately 2,000 KN95 masks. We started new branches and even added a “Protest Safely” initiative that supplied masks to protesters across the country. Our team even collaborated with students who we did not know from Deerfield, and we will be partnering with NAN (the National Action Network).

Currently, our team is figuring out new ways that we can expand our initiative without the need for more money. Our primary focus has been a legislative push to supply masks to all workers in COVID-19 wards (including janitors, desk workers, etc.). We are asking for the government to make sure that each hospital has an equal amount of PPE, a stockpile of PPE, and a lot more. We will be forming a group of 3 students who will work closely with us and help push this idea in a positive direction.

We will continue to supply PPE to areas of the United States who are negatively impacted by COVID-19. Right now, our focus has been on supplying hospitals in the South and California as they are facing a devastating wave of new cases.

In the last month, we have also used many new tactics to fundraise. One of these tactics was to create a line of stickers designed by Mark Chung. We have sold these stickers on our website and have received some orders. These stickers have been an innovative way for us to fundraise for our “Protest Safely” initiative.

Shielding our Defenders has been one of the most fruitful and impactful experiences for me. I have learned what it takes to build an initiative: how to fundraise, use connections, utilize social media, and contact news sources to spread awareness.

I have better learned how to lead a team and to connect with members of different backgrounds. By forming new branches, each one of our board members has had to meet new students from Deerfield and contact people we had never met before.

It takes a lot of hard work and determination to build an initiative that will hold a positive impact in many different communities. But I believe that our initiative has done just that. That the team we were able to build of over 30 students has shown how any person can have a large impact on those around them. That no matter your age, it is possible to make a difference that you never believed would be possible.

Thank you to the CSGC and to everyone who has supported our initiative. The Deerfield community has provided Shielding our Defenders with so much support, and I cannot thank everyone enough. I’m excited to write another update in the future with hopefully some more positive news about our legislative push.

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