This story was originally published on https://rajufoundationpa.org/.
The Pamela and Ajay Raju Foundation is working to distribute 100,000 face masks to a variety of super disseminators and community organizations in Philadelphia. By collaborating with 6ABC and the School District of Philadelphia, the Foundation will distribute boxes of masks to frontline workers serving the most vulnerable Philadelphians. Donations will benefit almost eleven organizations including Philabundance, the Food Bank of NJ, and the Urban Affairs Coalition.
2017 Germination Project Fellow Neetish Sharma attained the masks for distribution through a Stanford contact, Jack Yuan. Yuan’s family runs Chizhou Tianchi New Materials Technology Co., Ltd, a non-profit PPE manufacturer based in China, and when Yuan mentioned that his family was researching different communities in the United States to which it could donate PPE, Sharma asked about Philadelphia. Although Philadelphia is one of the largest cities in the country, Sharma stated, it is also one of the poorest, and, “Many low-income communities, especially communities of color, [are] in severe need of protection from COVID-19.”
Yuan was persuaded, and after a bit of coordination, Sharma and 2017 Fellow Nick Chimicles rented a U-Haul, drove to New York City, and brought the masks back to Philly. Foundation Chair Ajay Raju connected Sharma with Rob Davis, a trustee at White Rock Baptist Church, which has several streams of connections to communities of color throughout the city, and the Foundation dropped off the first 2,000 masks that same day.
With 98,000 masks still left to be donated, Raju partnered with 6ABC to identify communities in need of PPE. Now, through an ongoing partnership, the Pamela and Ajay Raju Foundation is working towards providing much-needed materials to community centers across the city.
Throughout this whole effort, Sharma has noted the “amazing conversations [he has had] about the state of our world and the future at large.” As the city continues its reopening in the coming weeks and months, these facemasks will surely prove their worth.