Relatives in China help NJ residents raise $20K for COVID-19 relief and gear
More than $20,000 in funds and supplies has been raised by the Princeton Chinese-American community to help deal with the staggering impact of COVID-19.
A GoFundMe campaign that started March 19 has drawn financial donations from as far away as China, according to organizer Cecilia Birge, where extended relatives and friends are all too familiar with the impact of the novel coronavirus.
Birge, a former mayor of neighboring Montgomery, said the campaign raised $10,000 “overnight” and has continued to draw donations as the Chinese community wants to help first-responders and medical professionals stay safe.
She said many are connected with loved ones in China and saw how the pandemic "swallowed the economy" and put the nation in lockdown mode for months. Because the community here went through it remotely, Birge said, they were very aware of how fast it could move when COVID-19 first hit the United States.
Birge said she thinks the community also was “very frustrated about how slow our own government responded,” and with the continued struggle to protect those on the front line against the virus.
Birge said a few people got together and formed an organizing committee with the intent to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) for essential workers.
She also said some online donations are coming to New Jersey from those same relatives and friends still in China.
Birge said they also have been collecting food and daily essentials to help local students on the free and reduced lunch program now facing difficulties while schools are physically shutdown.
Within the GoFundMe campaign's organizing committee, Birge said, they have connections to a shipment for national Chinese organizations, which will be able to bring some of the most crucial supplies needed over the next couple of weeks.
Birge said among the latest supplies expected, will be about 1,000 N-95 masks for medical staff, along with thousands of gloves and other facial shields and masks for grocery workers and other essential employees who might not be able to receive federal help directly.
“Our town, schools, EMS and Police are all doing their very best to help protect all of us, and we want to make sure they are safe as well,” the fundraising campaign summary reads.
Birge said the Princeton-based effort is working with local police and Mercer County’s nonprofit social services organization Arm in Arm, to help distribute supplies.