We are together by Michelle Sun

On March 19th, a Bay Area Chinese Running Group BURN started a new small wechat group to collect extra face masks from their runners to help to protect one member of BURN Running, a nurse working at San Jose Kaiser who had no PPEs at all while she and her colleagues fighting against COVID-19 to protect the community.

This small group of few ten people soon grew exponentially to over 300 volunteers.  More and more friends and neighbors joined the group, donating their precious face-masks that were so hard to find from local stores or online, either from what they bought here to protect their own family, or from overseas that their beloved friends and families in China took a long way to ship to them.

For over 70 days, this group started every brand new day as zero, then by the end of day, a long list was generated by every member of the group with their donations, their friends’ donations, or donations from the organizations they belong to.

Total around 10,000 PPEs were collected and donated to o local hospitals, clinics, long-terms care facilities, fire stations, police stations, post offices, super markets  etc.,  including: about 80k face masks, along with protective gowns, face-shields, protective goggles, wipes, gloves, hand sanitizers, etcs.

This video caught few of the numerous moments when BURN volunteers dropped off the donations they collected to Fremont Kaiser Permanence and Washington Hospital, when CEO of San Mateo County Public Health Foundation drove across the bay to pick up donations from volunteers’ home, and how some of the medical staff expressed their appreciation to the local Chinese community.

I asked the volunteers why they would do this.  The answer I heard most frequently is:

Protecting our medical staff, is protecting ourselves.

70+ days.
Day and night.

100,000 PPEs.

Love and friendship.
Laughter and tears.
We are together.
We are stronger.


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