Chinese Americans stand up for S. California community amid COVID-19 pandemic

Source:Xinhua Published: 2020/4/6 10:23:04

Photo taken in Los Angeles County, on March 26, 2020 shows donations from the Chinese-American community in Palos Verdes in Southern California, the United States. (Photo by Maggie Wang/Xinhua)

 "We are ordinary Chinese American people, we are trying to do a little to help our neighborhood, our city, with our ability, during COVID-19 pandemic," said Maggie Wang, one of the organizers of a Wechat group that has 218 members from the Chinese-American community in Palos Verdes and the Greater South Bay area in Southern California.

"We should come out stronger with more love and hope at this difficult time," she told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Maggie and her friends heard about the drastic shortage of masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE's) at local hospitals and decided to do something about it.

They mobilized to source medical supplies to help meet their local community healthcare-worker's and first responders' needs. Galvanized by the seriousness of the situation, they raised 28,400 U.S. dollars from the Chinese American community to buy medical supplies.

They also called on their tightly-knit community to get the word out: "Donate your extra masks, disinfectant, sanitizer, and, yes, toilet paper! Donate what you can!"

And the donations came flooding in. Some donations of N95 face masks even came to them still in their DHL shipping bags from China, having been sent to them by family and loved ones overseas.

Altogether, the group donated nearly 79,000 face masks, 4,000 medical grade gloves.

A total of 20,000 face masks and 4,000 medical grade gloves were donated to the office of LA City Councilman, Joe Buscaino's office, who have quickly distributed the personal protective equipment to LA police officers, fire fighters and first responders within an hour of receiving them.

Additionally, some of their donations went to Long Beach Community Hospital, a newly opened hospital designated to combat the coronavirus, to their local City Council, and to the Little Sisters of the Poor, a senior center for low income seniors in nearby city of San Pedro.

Some masks have been distributed to local post offices, supermarkets and police stations.

"Normally we might mind our own business, but not with a crisis on our hands that is spreading so rapidly and affects everyone," said Mingli Wang, another organizer of the social media group.

"We can stay home, but police officers, firefighters, city officials and other first responders have to respond to the community's needs. We should and must support them," said Mingli.

"Love spreads more rapidly than the virus," she posted on her WeChat Moments in March, as well as sending many other posts to encourage her friends to make a difference by stepping in to fight the coronavirus pandemic in China, the United States and other parts of the world.

"Viruses know no national boundaries or races," she noted.

The group had donated money to buy personal protective equipment for six hospitals in Hubei, Beijing and Shandong in February after the outbreak of COVID-19 in China. Little did they know then that just two months later they would find themselves in a similar crisis in America.

It turns out that for many Chinese Americans, public service is a deeply engrained family thing, especially amid a serious crisis.

Daphne Dai instructed her 11-year old son to call the local police department himself to arrange to donate the masks they'd bought so the boy would learn how to actively contribute to his community. Her 7-year old daughter had amassed 30 dollars in allowance for helping around the house, then the tenderhearted philanthropist-in-the-making donated 20 dollars of it to her mom's coronavirus effort.

"I hope to be an active role model for my children at this difficult time. It's good for our children to see us stand up, be courageous, and do something to help," the donor mothers explained.

While Maggie Wang was working more than 12 hours a day on their COVID-19 fundraiser, her German-American husband stepped in to help pick up the slack at home and take care of their child. Why? "Because I'm proud of you," he told her.

"Every time, when we need more donations, he will open up his checkbook and write a number," Maggie joked, truly thankful for the support of her beloved family members.

And their donations have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated by their SoCal recipients.

"Thank you so much!" responded Gabriel Medina, the District Director for LA City.

Councilman Joe Buscaino, upon receiving the group's donations. "You don't understand what an impact you and the rest of the group have made, we truly appreciate it."

Medina told Mingli in a message that those PPE's are much needed and appreciated by "the happy recipients."

"It is getting increasingly harder to find the things you and your wonderful group are donating," wrote Anita Uhrich, Volunteer Coordinator at Little Sisters of the Poor in an email to Mingli. "We are so blessed to have your love and generosity towards our Home and all who benefit from your kindness."

Officer Drake Madison, from the Los Angeles Police Department's Media Relations, told Xinhua, "As a police officer, helping out the community is what we do, so it's really nice to see the community want to help us out in return."


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