Charley Sun said he felt true pain once he saw xenophobia spreading against Asian Americans on the news as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened. Yet, as he saw a shortage of personal protective equipment, Sun was motivated to help health care workers in any way he could.
“Being a Chinese American myself, it’s painful to hear about … but once I found out our hospitals were short-handed on masks, I wanted to help out our health care professionals who are the most important people right now,” said Sun.
Sun, a sophomore business management major from Marietta, said he has donated a total of 7,315 masks to hospitals including Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, Northside Hospital Cherokee in Canton, Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany. Sun donated 1,660 masks to PARMC.
Sun has been using his own funds to buy the masks, but recently created a GoFundMe page to raise money to purchase more personal protective equipment for workers at Piedmont Athens Regional.
Of the 7,315 masks Sun donated, about 7,200 are medical masks, and the remaining 115 are either N95 or KN95 masks. Medical masks are single-use masks that wrap around both ears and block large droplets, while N95 masks are specialized masks with a tighter fit that block smaller particles.
The KN95 masks are the Chinese version of the N95 masks that accomplish the same goals. So far, Sun said he bought the medical masks for 45 cents per piece.
“I think it’s really important that we are coming together in a joint effort … when we are comparing our finances to people who are putting their lives on the line every single day, it’s not even a close comparison,” said Sun. “I think it’s really important to realize that if we have a roof over our heads, and food on our tables, we are more than able to support these health care workers.”
Sun personally delivers the masks and travels at least once or twice a week with his younger sister and mother to deliver the masks to the hospitals. Sun has also made small deliveries of medical masks to the DeKalb County Police Department and one Cobb County post office.
Lisa Mello, the Wellstar Foundation director of strategic giving, said in an email that the incredible support from the community has been very encouraging for the team members across all service areas.
“The outpouring of support has touched our team members — from donations to the Wellstar Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, to donated meals, masks and messages of support — every action has been heartfelt,” Mello said in an email.