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Hill School Students Raise Funds for Personal Protection Equipment for Local Organizations

A fifth form (junior) student at The Hill School, Michael Wong ’21 normally spends his free time training in the pool to keep in shape outside of the swimming season. However, because of restrictions due to COVID-19, he was unable to return home to Hong Kong and found himself in Phoenixville, Pa. with his friend, Grisham Vazirani ’21, and Grisham’s parents, Jagdish Vazirani and Shruti Sharma. With more time on his hands, Michael wanted to do something to give back to the community.

“I pitched the idea of trying to import personal protection equipment (PPE) from China to local hospitals and others in need in Pottstown,” stated Michael. “After talking with Grisham, I brought up the idea to the Hobart’s Run Leadership Council and gained support from our adviser, Ms. Twila Fisher.”

According to Grisham, the boys decided to try to acquire and donate PPE rather than simply make a financial donation to first responders and medical organizations because of the difficulty that already exists in acquiring masks and other PPE devices in bulk at reasonable prices.

Grisham’s father, Jagdish, is employed by Bristol Myers Squibb, and the company has generously pledged a dollar-to-dollar match for funds raised by the youths. An additional supply order then will be placed for equipment available in China through Michael Wong’s family connections.

Classmates Gavin Guerrette ’21 (Pottstown, Pa.), and David Chow ’21 (Manhasset, N.Y.) also jumped on board right away. The boys contacted Dr. Kristin Spencer, The Hill School’s Medical Director, to find out where donations of PPE could be best used in the community. They identified the Pottstown Police Department and other essential healthcare organizations on which to focus their efforts. They set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds and within in 24 hours, they had raised more than $810. To date, they have raised $3,545 toward their $5,000 goal.

On Friday, May 1, 2020, the boys delivered 2,000 masks to the Pottstown Police Department. Their hope is that by providing the Pottstown Police Department with PPE, officers will be able to safely distribute the masks to those in need as well as provide all their front-line staff with proper equipment to keep them safe.

“We have been very fortunate with how quickly the masks have been arriving in the U.S. and are incredibly grateful to all members of The Hill community and other donors for their generosity,” noted Gavin.

They recently received another shipment of 3,000 masks. On Friday, May 8 the boys distributed them to Manatawny Manor, Community Health and Dental, the Ricketts Center, and the Phoenixville Police Department. They plan to also make a delivery to the Upper Pottsgrove Police Department soon.

“Pottstown is our home,” remarked Gavin. “We owe it to the community to do everything we can to prevent the spread of the disease and ensure our neighbors stay healthy.”

To support the boys’ ongoing fundraising efforts, please visit https://bit.ly/3cgfxG3.