Personal protective equipment donations are arguably the most trending form of charity in the Tri-Valley, and Pleasanton resident Winnie Liu and her neighbors might be some of the biggest local influencers right now.
About two months ago, Liu and others in the local Asian-American community using a social media app called WeChat heard about the regional PPE shortage and decided to raise funds to purchase more than 20,000 bottles of hand sanitizer for frontline workers such as doctors, nurses, child caregivers, and firefighters.
“We were talking about the shortage of supplies and I mentioned maybe we can raise a fund to help them because our power for one person is kind of weak,” Liu told the Weekly.
Liu received an outpouring of responses offering to help and decided to contact the local chapter of the national non-profit organization Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs (APAPA) for help, and to keep things more official.
“It’s a pretty big organization, that’s why I trusted them, because I wanted the donation to be more official, so I contacted them for the fundraising because we wanted to raise funds first,” Liu said. “This way people can go through an official tunnel and can get a tax credit for when they donate money, so this is a more official way.”
Because of the long time it would take to ship the hand sanitizer via ocean freight, Liu said there was “very little time to raise funds and place a large volume shipment order of hand sanitizer directly from the manufacturer.” But thanks to the generosity of residents, more than $16,000 was raised online with APAPA’s assistance within five days.
Liu then connected with a hand sanitizer manufacturer who was also a “big supplier for Dollar Trees and Walmarts” through a friend and was able to order the supplies en masse.
Because the sanitizer came from overseas, Liu had to wait several days while the shipment sat in customs several hundred miles away in Southern California. Finally in late April, five local hospitals — – Kaiser Pleasanton, Stanford Valley Care, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Kaiser NorCal and San Ramon Regional Medical Center — were each gifted with several thousand bottles of hand sanitizer.
Smaller quantities of hand sanitizer were also distributed to local agencies and nonprofits including the Pleasanton, Dublin and San Ramon Valley Unified school districts, San Ramon Valley Fire Department, Alameda Health System, Hacienda Child Development Center, as well as the Cocokids Daycare Center in Concord.
But the generosity didn’t end with the hand sanitizer; Liu said the manufacturer offered to cover part of the ground shipping costs from Southern California to the Bay Area, possibly somewhere in the range of hundreds of dollars.
“I contacted APAPA, and they said it’s hard to say how much extra the supplier actually paid,” she said. “The original shipping was included in the order, and they were later charged by a third party company for shipping. Right now the total cost of freight from Chico to TriValley was $1600-plus, but this is supposed to be the total charge of ocean freight plus land freight.”
Another associate of Liu’s and longtime Pleasanton resident Chong Wang has also been actively delivering PPE to local medical facilities, senior nursing homes and school districts during the pandemic. As a member of Chinese Americans Responding to Epidemic (CARE) — formed by alumni from eight Chinese universities who are living in the U.S. — Wang recently secured more than 8,000 face masks and 1,000 disposable gloves through the organization.
On May 13, all 1,000 gloves and 4,000 masks were delivered to Pleasanton Unified School District; another 4,000 masks will be given to the city of Pleasanton this week, who presented CARE with a Certificate of Recognition for their work, according to Liu.
“We want to do what we can do, and we do our best to tell the community we care about them, we really do,” she said.