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On The Front Lines: Illinois High School Students Raise $35K and Collect PPE for First Responders




By Cynthia Hopkins, Asian American Advocacy - 

It’s no overstatement to say the global COVID-19 pandemic has turned everybody’s lives upside down. As the world fights against an invisible enemy, it’s hard to stand firm in the whirlwind of panic and disarray. Schools are closed. Business have shuttered down. Doctors and nurses are risking their lives at the frontlines in hospitals and clinics. Policemen and firefighters are risking theirs so we can stay safe inside with our loved ones.

And amid all this chaos, with a nationwide shortage of lifesaving personal protection equipment (PPEs) and sanitary supplies, healthcare worker everywhere have to heartbreakingly choose between shutting down their practice, preserving personal health, or fighting for the world.

Here in the west suburbs of Chicago, a couple Chinese American college and high school students were inspired by these heroes, leading their friends and family to help our community through this dark time of history.

For the last couple weeks, besides staying home and studying online, the students have been pouring all their time and effort to pull together the COVID-19 Relief Group and donate thousands of PPEs and sanitizing products to first responders, clinics, nursing homes, and hospitals across the community. To do so, they’ve been raising money through GoFundMe and purchasing medical supplies by collaborating with parents to find PPE manufacturers overseas, all to support our community.


Over the course of two weeks, Dov Chen, Angela Han and their COVID-19 Relief Group have raised over $35,028 from nearly a hundred donors on GoFundMe and received over 600 KN-95 face masks, 8,100 surgical masks, 190 sanitizers, 2,500 boxes of gloves, and 90 disposable thermometers from community and overseas donors.

With the help of parents and manufacturers, they have used every cent to purchase 10,000 KN-95 masks, 10,000 surgical masks, 500 N95 masks, 6000 isolation gowns, 100 protection suits, 170 bottled sanitizers and 2500 boxes of gloves.  These are all being distributed to community medical workers with the help of Christ Church, Midwest Club HOA and local villages.

But they’re just getting started.

Besides major hospitals like the University of Chicago Medical Center, Rush University Medical Center, Northwestern Medicine, and Good Samaritan, smaller clinics such as St Mary Medical Center and Baubly Medical have also received donations, many facing the unenviable choice of shutting down if otherwise.

In a plea for donations, a medical practice of 20 doctors called Doctors Immediate Care at Lombard writes, “We are running very low and may have to close the coming week.” Within a few days, the COVID-19 Relief Group delivered a box full of facial masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, and gowns. Although the urgent nationwide demand for PPE seems endless, the every one of the hardworking volunteers in the COVID-19 Relief Group is doing their part.

Additionally, medical centers aren’t the only ones receiving donations. Over the last week, local fire stations and police departments like the Oak Brook Police Department and the Clarendon Hills Fire Department have also received plenty of disinfecting supplies and non-contact thermometers.

For the Christ Church of Oak Brook, the COVID-19 Relief Group is planning to donate thousands of medical-grade surgical masks to elderly and immunocompromised members, having already donated 50 surgical masks for their Food Pantry that through brave volunteers is serving food to the homeless.

The Oak Brook Police Department accurately assesses the situation stating, “All first responders and health care professionals across the country find themselves in a desperate fight and need for essential supplies,“ and “on behalf of Fire Chief Barry Liss and [their] entire organization, please accept our thanks for the timely donation of disinfecting supplies and no-contact thermometers.” 

Margaret Hornstra of Baubly Medical, a two-physician internal medicine practice, writes to the COVID-19 Relief Group, “I cannot thank you enough…We so appreciate your efforts, we had a bit of a family cry…You are making the world a better place.”

A sentence that warms everybody at the COVID-19 Relief Group’s hearts.

Everyday doctors, nurses, firefighters, and policemen are risking their lives to save ours. Perhaps we can be inspired by Dov, Angela and the rest of the COVID-19 Relief Group to not only social distance, but through our helping hands and open hearts pull this community through the pandemic together.

Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.

In God we trust, in Love we stand steadfast.

To contribute to this effort, go to the GoFundMe page HERE


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