What started off as the parents of Brandeis students talking in a group chat eventually turned into a donation of 30,000 one-time use surgical masks to Massachusetts General Hospital and 4,500 one-time use surgical masks to Newton-Wellesley Hospital. With worry surrounding mask shortages spreading across the United States, parents decided to do their part in helping the University and its surrounding community. 

Over 390 parents of former, current and prospective Brandeis students worked together to make the donation, explained Haizhen Ding, the administrator of the group chat, in an April 11 email to the Justice. 

While the group has been focusing heavily on shipping materials to hospitals, the effort all started when Ding’s son’s professor said masks were sold out and asked her son where he purchased the mask he was wearing. 

Ding’s son contacted his mom, who with the help of other parents, shipped 3,000 masks to campus. Additionally, parents who were worried about students traveling back to China put together care packages containing protective equipment and wipes.

Parents then decided to donate to Massachusetts hospitals. In search of a large quantity of masks, Biran Jiu’s ’21 father approached Jointown Medical Devices Group, a medical distribution company based in China. According to Ding’s email, the company’s CEO was “very supportive of our actions and assured assist[ance] to our cause.”  

Jointown Medical Devices Group had already shipped masks to New York, the email explained, which greatly expedited the process of delivering equipment. With just seven Chinese factories producing masks that comply with the United States Food and Drug Administration’s requirements, in addition to long waiting times to ship materials to the United States, Ding noted that the company’s help was crucial. “At this moment, saving time is saving lives,” she wrote. 

While parents found masks to donate, Yimeng Di’s ’22 mother, who works at the Brandeis International Business School, was in charge of communications with hospitals to ensure that the donation process ran smoothly. 

In her email, Ding explained how touched she was that the parents of graduated and prospective students reached out to help the cause. Some of the parents had not yet visited the campus, but were still willing to contribute. Prospective student Amelia Chen’s father offered to drive the masks to Massachusetts from New York City so they could be delivered as quickly as possible. “He stayed on call the whole time to get the masks to the hospitals ASAP,” Ding wrote. 

Ding added that Massachusetts General Hospital expressed their gratitude to the families for their generosity and kindness. The hospital’s receiving manager, Gary Mulrey, said that the donation “will enable us to keep using the ear loop masks at our MGH entrances and other internal locations to keep our employees safe for most of the week!”    

With hundreds of parents donating money and delivering masks, Ding said that the group served as a support system for worried parents. “With our support, we are able to ensure students with a good environment to study, lessen the worries of the parents, reduce the workload for the school and the pressure on the U.S. government,” she wrote. 

In an April 8 letter to University President Ron Liebowitz, the parent group said they hope to continue donating personal protective equipment to Massachusetts communities and hospitals.  

In their message to Liebowitz, parents shared that “through the joint efforts of society, the University, and all the students & parents, we will overcome this pandemic.”