A Southridge School student and a group of her classmates raised more than $5,000 for frontline health-care workers this spring, with the money helping fund a meal program at Peace Arch Hospital.
Back in late March, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was just coming into focus, 16-year-old Nora Zhu was speaking with her aunt, who works at a large hospital in China. From that conversation, she learned about how overworked the frontline workers there were, and was spurred into action closer to home.
“My aunt said doctors there were working so many hours a day, and were so tired. And in addition to self-quarantining in the hospitals, just had no time or energy to make themselves proper meals,” Zhu said.
“The conditions seemed really horrible, so I did some research and talked to some of my friends who have parents or family members working in hospitals here to see if the conditions in B.C. hospitals were similar.
“I found out that (working conditions) weren’t as bad as in China… but there were still many doctors and nurses who were self-quarantining (away from their families), they were working a lot of overtime, they were tired.”
As a way to help, Zhu decided she wanted to try to set up a meal-delivery program for front-line workers at Peace Arch Hospital, raising money and partnering with local restaurants to deliver food to busy, overworked staff.
The teen was inspired to help at PAH “on account of my family members and I have visited many times.”
After contacting the hospital, she found out that such a program had already been started by the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation, so she changed course, and decided to gather up some friends and raise money for the already-running initiative instead.
After a handful of Zoom calls with her fellow organizers, a GoFundMe account was launched, and over the next few months raised $5,605.
They were also able to bring one more restaurant on board with the hospital’s program, Zhu said.
The GoFundMe campaign officially closed June 1, and the money was sent to the meal-delivery organizers. With each meal costing between $8-$13, Zhu said their efforts were able to pay for more than 500 meals.
“About seven or eight weeks’ worth,” she said.
While the core group of fundraisers included Zhu and seven friends – Jonathan Hilton, Stanford Guo, Tatum Byrne, Alyssai Hai, Edward Cui, Coco Li, and Aerin Brown – she said there were dozens more who helped get the word out behind the scenes.
“In the end, my team and I were very proud… we were able to give back to our community,” Zhu said.