When Seattle Children’s posted on social media asking followers to consider donating any unopened masks in light of a global manufacturing shortage and the impact of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), the community responded in a big way.
In one week, community members near and far rallied to donate more than 17,000 masks and these numbers are expected to increase with more donations in the coming weeks.
“We were overwhelmed by the rapid and extensive response by our community,” said Aileen Kelly, executive director of Seattle Children’s Guild Association. “In times like these, it is heartwarming to see people come together to serve the greater good. We are very appreciative of this generosity and it’s not lost on us how a simple thing like a mask can make a significant impact locally, nationally and globally.”
Outpouring of support
The incredible response from others in the larger community was also unexpected.
“We were flooded with calls and emails from around the world,” said Libby Calovich, Seattle Children’s Manager, Foundation Operations and Administration. “We appreciate the support of our generous donors now more than ever. They have donated so many masks we couldn’t come close to counting them as they poured in!”
Donors included local businesses, the families of patients, and even other hospitals who knew the importance of having adequate PPE for frontline providers.
Dr. Xuan Qin, division chief of Seattle Children’s Microbiology Laboratory, was in touch with her former colleagues at Shanghai Children’s Medical Center (SCMC) through a philanthropic effort called Project HOPE®. Leadership at SCMC answered her heartfelt plea for masks by not only sending 2,000 N95 masks, but also covering the expensive international shipping costs.
“We are grateful for the support from our colleagues in Shanghai,” said Qin.
Connections to Seattle’s Chinese community
Ye Hong Wang, a Seattle Children’s employee who has worked in the nutrition department for nearly 10 years and is an active member of the local Chinese community, was tagged in a Facebook comment about donating masks. Her friend asked how the local Chinese community could help Seattle Children’s.
Soon, Ming Xiao, President of Guangzhou Association of Washington State, along with Wang, who is the treasurer for the organization, further promoted this call to action on the social media platform WeChat.
Xiao also contacted a surgical mask supplier she had previously purchased masks from and then organized a donation event in order to raise the money to pay for them.
“A lot of people contributed on the same day, including members from Guagnzhou Association, Guangfu Association and Friendship of Gee How Oak Tin Association,” Wang said via email. “In the end, we were able to gather the money to buy all 86 packs, what the supplier had in stock at the time, to donate.”
Wang delivered the packs, which amounted to 4,300 masks. Her mother and brother are both doctors in China, so she understands the importance of their safety and well-being first hand, especially in a time of crisis. Her son is also working toward becoming a physician someday.
“As a mother, I would hope that other people are able to help him if he ever found himself in a situation like this,” she said. “I’m hoping these masks are able to help keep patients, doctors, nurses safe, as they are already more at risk than most of the people from the general population.”
To support the cause
As part of its response to COVID-19, Seattle Children’s is monitoring the supply of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) carefully. Thanks to the recent donations from generous communities both locally and internationally, along with conservation efforts, the supply is holding steady. Seattle Children’s is planning to donate any surplus supplies to partner hospitals in the area.
To donate FDA-approved basic isolation masks and surgical masks to Seattle Children’s, please use one of the following options below. At this time, we are not accepting hand-sewn masks, N95 masks or other items (including gloves, gowns, etc.).
Drop-off hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please call the phone number listed on the board upon arrival and someone will come to your car to collect the donation.
Drop-off locations (Note: Please do not drop off masks at the hospital):
Seattle Children’s Guild Association Office
6901 Sand Point Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115
Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center
1500 116th Avenue NE
Bellevue, WA 98004
Seattle Children’s Guild Association
Attn: Jerry Gronau
6901 Sand Point Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115
For alternative ways to contribute to Seattle Children’s, please visit our donation page.