Teen nonprofit COVID Care provides pandemic supplies

ajc.com

Shortly after schools closed in March, Johns Creek High School junior Eric Chang gathered a team of classmates to fill boxes with safety supplies for the coronavirus pandemic. The student group, COVID Care, has donated more than 200 boxes to Children’s Health of Atlanta and Our House, an Atlanta shelter and early childhood education center that helps families experiencing homelessness.

Chang, who is president of the group, said he saw the pandemic as an opportunity to help others.

“The thing that upset me was the widespread panic,” Chang said. “And the sense that a lot of people (friends) around me didn’t seem to worry about others’ struggles. Some of my friends were complaining about having to stay home.”

Chang contacted 10 friends, who are also juniors at Johns Creek High School, to co-found the COVID Care nonprofit. They set up a workspace at Medlock Bridge Park and made batches of hand sanitizer using isopropyl alcohol, glycerol and hydrogen peroxide. They also made face masks and organized a donation drive throughout the Johns Creek community to collect gloves and wipes for their boxes. COVID Care kits include written safety guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In March, COVID Care gave 100 care boxes to Our House, which houses up to 100 people at a time, said donations manager Marquez Allen. All of the families have newborn babies age six months or younger.

“It was very helpful to receive their donation,” said Allen. “We provide those items to our families and we rely heavily on the community. We still need help because our families are running through supplies.”

Chang, 16, said the student group also passed out 30 boxes to homeless people living on downtown Atlanta streets.

In April, COVID Care donated items to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. Chang and COVID Care Vice President Art He delivered 300 single wipes, a bundle of Clorox wipes, and nearly 30 masks, said Ansley Johnson, a volunteer coordinator at the hospital.

Omeed Kalan, one of the first classmates Chang contacted to help start COVID Care, serves as director of resource development.

“When I first heard about coronavirus in January and February, we didn’t actually think it was going to affect us,” Kalan said. “Then Eric said he wanted us to do something for the community that could have a really big impact.”

Three parents of COVID Care team members serve as advisers.

Chang now wants to network with other youth-led organizations around Georgia.

“Our nonprofit is student run,” he said. “We really do most of the work. Our goal is to create a statewide network of students who are working on other projects. We want to bring all these youth organizations together to share resources.”

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