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Deerfield Students Fight COVID-19 Heart To Heart
Sunshine Chen ’23 Staff Writer
April 11, 2020
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Amidst a Pandemic, some Deerfield students Outreached and Prepared essential goods and Kind Words to Shield Our Defenders and ensure that Nobody Goes Hungry.

COVID-19 has left the world in havoc, but Deerfield students have found ways to bring light to these dark times through initiatives such as Shielding Our Defenders, Kind Words USA, Nobody Goes Hungry, Outreach and Prep, and Amidst a Pandemic

Based primarily in New York, Shielding Our Defenders is a non-profit organization dedicated to shipping personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers in New York City. 

Eric Wang ’21 initiated the project when he asked his friend Angela Osei-Ampadu ’21 if her mom, a Bronx healthcare worker, needed N95 respirators. His initial shipment was immensely helpful, and they soon considered shipping PPE to hospitals. Mark Chung ’21 and Harry Niles ’21 joined in, and they started a GoFundMe. 

After Wang’s father found a Hong Kong mask supplier, Niles and Osei-Ampadu delivered the equipment shipped from Hong Kong to various hospitals. They have transported N95 to the Bronx Medical Center, the Jamaican Hospital Medical Center, and the NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital. Up until April 30th, they have raised $10,100 and have sent at least 2,000 masks to the Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan boroughs in New York. The local TV station, News 12 The Bronx, has featured their efforts.

Madeline Lee ’20

Additionally, Shielding Our Defenders has partnered with other Deerfield organizations such as Nobody Goes Hungry and Kind Words USA. In the future, they may plan on shipping masks to essential workers, such as cashiers, police officers, and paramedics.

In Chicago, Gabriella Hu ’21 was inspired by her Jordanian friend and her father to start Kind Words USA. Hu’s father, a doctor, told her about the low morale in hospitals, and she realized the severity of “the compromised mental health of many workers battling COVID.” Her Jordanian friend created Kelme Helweh to express gratitude towards Jordanian healthcare workers, and Hu decided to create a similar initiative for American healthcare workers.

Kind Words USA asks people to send a thank-you message to healthcare workers battling on the frontlines of this pandemic. Julia Hioe ’22 and other volunteers then transcribe the messages onto cards and send them to hospitals all across the United States. Hioe’s favorite message came from “a younger student who drew a picture of two doctors and a big heart above.” So far, they have sent notes to Montefiore Hospital (NY), Edward Hospital (IL), Elmhurst Hospital (IL), and Saratoga Hospital (NY). 

Back home at Deerfield, Nobody Goes Hungry strives to provide non-perishable goods for famished residents in Western Massachusetts. Juliette Lowe ’21 said, “Families who never had to go to food banks now had to go.”

Lowe created a GoFundMe to help solve food insecurity. She stuck posters across town and used donations to create bags that contained a full day’s worth of nutrition, including beef jerky, crackers, tuna, apple sauce, and granola bars. Residents lined up every week at a table where she would hand out these bags.

With instructors spread out all across the world, Outreach and Prep, initiated by Jing He ’21 and Ellia Chiang ’21, offers free online tutoring to middle school students. When He’s mother informed her about pupils deprived of high-quality live classes and resorting to no classes or recorded videos, He and Chiang started to brainstorm. They recruited more than twenty Deerfield students and scheduled online tutoring sessions to help middle school students. 

On the other side of the world, Natasha Leong ’21 started the blog Amidst a Pandemic to record personal stories about people affected by COVID-19. They have interviewed people from Hong Kong, Australia, United Kingdom, Greece, and Hungary. An infected patient, a pilot, and a healthcare worker have all shared their stories on amidstapandemic.com

These Deerfield students have devoted vast amounts of time and energy to helping others. Osei-Ampadu spends more than three hours per day sorting out logistics for Shielding Our Defenders. Jing He said that Chiang “has said that her eight to twelve is reserved for me. I’m not trying to brag, but I feel like I have a special position.” 

However, all of these initiatives depend heavily upon the support of individuals. Hu said, “the biggest challenge has been to get people to send notes in and to spread awareness beyond the Deerfield bubble.” Chiang and He both agreed and urged Deerfield students to “spread the word, put it on your Instagram, and tell people about it.”