On offer: 9,000 surgical masks.
Coronavirus cases were spiking at the time, and while most major healthcare facilities that experienced critical PPE shortages in the early months of the pandemic had enough inventory by then, that wasn’t the case for the smaller healthcare centers in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties that Malone’s group represents.
Malone had never heard of “Fighting for Heroes,” a South Bay group fundraising in support of frontline healthcare workers amid the coronavirus crisis.
She acknowledged a sense of amazement when she learned the person on the other end of the phone was a South Bay teen who hadn’t yet started her senior year of high school.
“It was a surprise,” Malone said.
Angelina Lue’s “Fighting for Heroes” has proven itself to be a formidable PPE fundraising operation.
The group launched a GoFundMe drive in March that has raised over $15,900 as of Sunday and has forged partnerships to help fund PPE donations. Earlier this month reported it has donated 40,850 masks to healthcare facilities throughout the country.
Lue’s team is made up entirely of high school students, mostly her Los Altos High School classmates.
That quantity of PPE being offered was more in line with what Malone sees from larger, established non-profit groups, not high school students.
“The amount, for sure, and the fact that it was her and several of her classmates that did all of the fundraising,” Malone said of what made the donation unexpected.
“Some of the organizations we’ve been in partnership with, they’ve had other connections that have helped with the fundraising part and some of the PPE supplies they donated were smaller amounts, for sure.”
Lue brought an entrepreneurial background to her fundraising campaign that’s been a boon to her endeavor.
When she was 13, Lue started a clothing and accessories company. Ivory Tees contributes 20 percent of its profits to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a conservation group dedicated to protecting Africa’s wildlife habitat.
That experience helped her navigate the international wholesale market that she’s used to get the most value for her group’s donation dollars.
Lue has endeavored to bring the PPE to those who with the greatest need throughout her campaign and had recently learned about the struggles smaller healthcare centers were experiencing amid the pandemic.
When Lue discovered that CHP works with dozens of clinics throughout San Mateo and Santa Clara counties that care for underserved communities and uninsured children, among others, it seemed like a natural fit.
Lue recently appeared at a CHP virtual appreciation dinner meeting as an honorary guest.
“It was really amazing to be invited to their dinner appreciation Zoom (meeting),” Lue said.
“Just seeing the people who led the specific health clinics, seeing the tiredness in their faces and the gratitude of the other donors who were on the call, what it was like to receive the donations and how important they were was really amazing to see. It really reinforced the idea of how important our work was.”
Lue started the fundraising drive when the Bay Area started shuttering in mid-March.
A team of around a dozen that originally called itself “Teens Fighting COVID-19” has since swelled to group of 28 that’s used social media savvy and the power of persuasion they honed in competitive debating to advance their cause.
Paulina Harding, a Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland senior, Sheryl Chen, a Menlo-Atherton sophomore, and Alicia Yim and Marie Godderis (both Los Altos seniors), along with Lue, are among the group’s founding members.
Lue’s group has forged partnerships that have opened up additional avenues for PPE donations.
Earlier this summer Lue reached out to Rock N Rags, a Chicago-based apparel company, to gauge its interest in participating in a giveaway to raise awareness about her group through its social media page.
“They were like, ‘actually we’re selling reusable cloth masks, so why don’t we just donate the proceeds to you guys?’ ” Lue said.
The Rock N Rags partnership resulted in the purchase of 3,000 surgical masks that went to Chicago-area medical workers.
Lue’s group sent 3,000 masks to medical workers in New York City in April when it was the epicenter of the pandemic; 2,000 to Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and 1,000 to Mount Sinai in Manhattan.
It has also donated PPE to medical facilities in Navajo Nation, which has experienced the nation’s highest infection amid shortages of food and medical supplies.
“Additionally, they’re struggling with receiving enough funding from the government,” Lue said, “so we thought that we should step in and support them.”
The group launched its own website and has generated media buzz.
Lue has appeared in television interviews on NBC Bay Area and KPIX 5. She was also featured in a San Jose Mercury News article highlighting the work of PPE fundraising efforts throughout the Bay Area.
Videographer Fernando Sepulveda Sagaseta produced a YouTube video in support of their cause.
Lue said her group is committed to continuing its fundraising effort as long as the demand for PPE exists.
Lue’s fundraising team’s efforts have been a source of inspiration amid challenging times, Malone said.
“I think it’s very empowering,” she said. “It’s great to see our youth who are stepping up and taking action through advocacy. I see this as a form of advocacy. I think it’s great that they’re keeping informed, they are committed, and they care about their community and others and they’re wanting to advocate.
“The support that Angelina and her group fighting for heroes, as well as a lot of other donors who are contributing to our clinic, it’s really great and it comes at a really good time.”
How you can help:
Contribute to Fighting for Heroes GoFundMe campaign.
Follow them on Instagram.
Visit their website.
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