By: Megan Roche
During the novel coronavirus, many local organizations, businesses, and foundations have stepped up to help those on the front lines. Joining their ranks are the Chinese American community from Hanover.
What started out as a complete grassroots effort, pooling money through Venmo, the Hanover Chinese American community has been able to purchase and donate over 10,000 face masks and PPE to local community organizations, the Morris County Office of Emergency Management, hospitals, and first responders.
“It was super organic. We’re not an official community in Hanover. We were all sitting at home and we wanted to do something to help. We all just pooled money together through Venmo and it was a grassroots effort. It’s very touching that they decided to do that. Once they reached a certain amount, they reached out to me to help facilitate,” Annie Ma said.
Ma, who runs the Lunar New Year celebration in Hanover each year, along with many other Chinese American volunteers have dropped off donation after donation to many local groups. Ma says the response has been overwhelming.
“It came down to what do we get, how do we get it to the people who need it, and what will the process be. Our first effort was face masks. We knew they were super important. It started with face masks and since we started until now, we’ve donated over 10,000 masks,” Ma said.
Donations have included NK95 masks, hand sanitizer, regular masks, Lysol wipes, and Clorox bleach. The Chinese American community has enjoyed stepping up to serve their community when it’s most needed.
“Throughout the process, it was never about wanting to get to 10,000 masks. It was more about fulfilling needs in waves. We started with the hospitals, we hit the communities like nursing homes, local organizations, physicians’ offices, and then we reached out to the greater community, with grocery stores, DPW, essential workers, when the governor mandated facemasks to everybody. We still have more to do and now we’re working on building a reserve so nobody has to be afraid to go out,” Ma said.
The Chinese American community of Hanover has partnered with their counterparts in Livingston, Short Hills, and Parsippany among others. With many members of the Chinese American community still having close ties to China, when things started to deteriorate in Wuhan due to the coronavirus, they wanted to step up and serve their community.
“It all really came about when we heard from family back in China. We heard about how bad it was and we took it really seriously when we heard the World Health Organization reports. We were all just really worried,” Ma said.
The team is doing all they can to ensure that all things being imported and shared with the community are safe.
“We are working with a team of scientists to ensure that the masks are not knockoffs. We’re doing our best. Nothing is ever 100% and through all of our individual strengths, we were able to bring it in,” Ma said.
When dropping off donations, Ma says that those on the receiving end of the donations have been able to breathe a little easier.
“When we drop off our donations, everybody looks like they are about to cry. I think that’s one of the most heartfelt moments. They all say they are so relieved, and you can see it. They literally breathe a breath of relief so that’s really what is keeping us all going. We know we’re making a difference, but it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience all around,” Ma said.
The Hanover Chinese American community is actively taking donations toward their efforts. If interested in donating, email Ma at firstname.lastname@example.org.