Ever since the stay-at-home order came into place in mid-March due to COVID-19, everyone has been encouraged to do their part to flatten the curve. While most people are following social distancing guidelines, many members of our community are going above and beyond to help others during these difficult times.
CVHS freshman Daniel Guo is one. When he found out that frontline health workers in hospitals often didn’t have sufficient protection while treating patients, he spent $1,800 from his savings to buy hundreds of high-quality KN95 masks.
“I wished for them to stay safe while they helped other people’s lives,” explained Guo. Guo donated the masks to the Highland Hospital and Eden Hospital in late April.
“Getting N95 masks in the U.S. is hard; I had to find a different source than those of the hospitals,” said Guo. “My uncle helped me to buy high-quality KN95 masks directly from a PPE factory in China where the price was very good.”
Sophomore Felix Shum is also doing his part to help local hospitals.
“I noticed on the Stanford Children’s Hospital webpage a need for donations for protective equipment, so I thought I could help out by making a donation as well,” said Shum.
He had been saving up to buy a new Nintendo Switch, using money he had earned from tutoring math. He instead decided to donate the money to the hospital.
“When I saw the request for donations, I decided to give a check. I am a regular patient at Stanford so I felt inclined to help out,” explained Shum. After his generous donation, the hospital had a special surprise for Shum.
“The managers of Stanford Children’s Hospital were so delighted at my generosity and wanted to meet online,” he said. “The managers surprised me with a Nintendo Switch that I had wanted to save up for during the online meeting with a package at my front door. Never would I have thought that my good deeds could come full circle back to me.”
Magnanimous mask makers
Other community members have been making masks, including school board member and parent Dot Theodore.
Theodore began by making masks for her family members. When she learned they were in need of masks and couldn’t get any, she found a pattern online and began to create them. She then took requests from people online.
So far, Theodore has created around 400 masks, donating them to people in the community and different nearby health care agencies.
“I like the sense of accomplishment I feel after making each one, and enjoy talking to people as they come to my doorstep and pick up the masks, it’s a little opportunity to say hello,” Theodore said.
Junior Jennifer Tang and freshman David Tang spent their own money and learned sewing skills to make masks for frontline workers too.
CVHS aide Kimberly Mosbaugh and daughter Shaelyn Mosbaugh have also been making masks for friends, family and the community.
“It started with my husband who is a 911 dispatcher. Someone at his work tested positive for COVID-19 so masks were mandatory, but his work would only give them one disposable mask a week and would charge them if they needed a new one. So I started sewing,” Mosbaugh said.
“I wanted to make sure all the dispatchers stayed safe and healthy. First it was one for each dispatcher (200), then I wanted to be sure that each dispatcher had two so they can rotate if needed. Some of the dispatchers are married to first responders so I decided to expand and make some for cops and firefighters.”
Although they began by making masks for first responders, they have expanded to also make some for homeless vets. “As of now we have made 1,000 masks and over 100 ear protectors,” Mosbaugh said.
Spirited students supply suburb
Juniors Sedona Berg and Czarina Powell are essential workers at Target. Not surprisingly, work has been much different than usual, with new policies and guidelines to minimize the risk for workers and customers alike.
Berg described how people would begin to line up before the store even officially opened, with everyone panicking to stock up on essentials despite the limits on these items.
“I am worried about the risk in working during these times, but I think about how I would rather have me, a 17-year-old, working the front lines than someone older than me potentially getting affected by the virus worse than me,” said Berg.
As a guest advocate, Powell assists guests with any of their needs, curbside pickups, and returning items.
“When we return items we are sanitizing the boxed or hard items, and we quarantine the softer items for three days,” Powell explained. “After we help each guest we are sanitizing our checkout lanes, self checkouts, and the counters at the guest service desk. We also have been cleaning carts and baskets for our guests and have had one person cleaning the store during their entire shift. We have been closing at 9 p.m. so we can deep clean our store.”
Other students working long hours to keep the public supplied with groceries include seniors Anika Donovan and Mell Davis at Lucky and Niccolo Delucci at Trader Joe’s.
Senior Broderick Dwyer and juniors Griffin Hastings and Nolan Alexander keep the hungry fed at Southern Comfort Kitchen. “We all wear face masks on the cooking line and wear gloves whenever we touch anything,” said Dwyer, who realizes that even serving customers puts his health at risk. “They walk in to order and then we ask them to wait outside. Most of our orders are over the phone, though.”
Free food for hungry humans
CVUSD has been giving out free grab-and-go meals three times weekly at Creekside Middle School since schools closed on March 16.
“We served just over 300 on our first days and we are now serving over 700,” said organizer Charity Hastings.
Teachers, office staff, instructional assistants, and Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi have been volunteering weekly at Creekside to serve CVUSD families.
There are around six volunteers handing out food, with many more people working in the kitchen and cafeteria creating the lunches. In addition to getting meals, people can also pick up bags of canned food from the Alameda County Food Bank, and there are other resources, including how to get free internet, and locations of other food banks.
“It has been inspiring to see staff from all sites and all departments working side by side (six feet apart),” said Hastings.
Amazing book documents amazing year
Students will get their yearbooks in the semester’s final days only because the yearbook staff pulled off a minor miracle. The closure of school on March 13 arrived just as the staff raced to meet its final deadline. Despite the difficulties posed by distance learning, the students overcame and submitted their book to print.
“This year’s yearbook staff came together and developed a sense of family and togetherness,” said teacher Jessica Porter. “I am so grateful for the editors and for the entire staff.”
The team even managed to produce a supplemental section and cover the pandemic.
Porter especially thanked freshman Aidan Wertzer, sophomore Alexis Krzyzanowski, juniors Sedona Berg and Karla Castellanos, and seniors Lexi Zeigler, Conal Mosbaugh and Amber Hendrickson.
School staff serves superbly
During this time, members of the CVUSD community have been volunteering in many other ways.
CVHS psychology and history teacher Jennifer Sitkin helps as a driver for East Bay Feed ER, an organization that has been supporting the restaurant industry during the COVID-19 crisis while also feeding health care workers on the front lines. The organization started by bringing 25 meals from one restaurant to one hospital, but since then has grown to serve hundreds of meals a day to many different hospitals.
“I wanted to find a way to help out during the crisis beyond my own job and household. I donated money but also felt like I had the time to be a driver as well,” said Sitkin. “I appreciate everyone’s efforts to support our community financially and to also to take care of those that are putting themselves at risk every day with their work in the healthcare industry.”
History teacher Kathleen Cassidy helps with the Creekside food service and also donates blood. Cassidy usually donates blood every eight weeks and platelets every four weeks. “I’m healthy and able to donate blood/platelets. I know the Red Cross is very concerned about their supply as people are not willing to go out and risk infection,” said Cassidy.
CVHS staff member Serena Weed is helping out in her neighborhood by bringing essential supplies to elderly neighbors who are at high risk and don’t feel safe outside.
“My husband and I just do a daily check in to see if they need toilet paper, paper towels or anything else. Some of the elderly are afraid to come to the door so we just leave a little care package of many necessities that are quite hard to find these days,” said Weed. “As long as I feel healthy using hand sanitizers, washing my hands and using my mask, I don’t feel there is any risk. We can’t stop being compassionate.”
Teachers Tommy Maloney and Jennifer Jervis organized a video featuring CVHS staff members showing appreciation for their students.
“I worry that students feel lonely and disconnected because they are home and might be missing the usual social interactions they have with friends and staff at school,” said Jervis.
Many teachers were pictured holding signs expressing how much they missed seeing their students and being able to teach in person at school. Other staff members were also featured showing their appreciation of simply seeing students at school every day.
“We thought it would be nice for students to know that school staff still thinks about and cares about them even though we are not at school,” said Jervis.
CVHS PE teachers Denny Molzen, Mark Williams, John Edwards and Carrie Roscelli are leading frequent online exercise sessions. Spanish teacher Laurel Orduna has helped pick up trash from Alameda beaches. Noel Amherd and Sue Anderson and others have held community circles which are growing in participation.
The Wellness Center holds staff support meetings and produces “words of wellness” podcasts to communicate with those who are affected by the pandemic. The guests include elders, youths, teachers, and students who have different perspectives on this crisis. It also provided the chances for people to share their experience on helping the society during this difficult time.
Principal Blaine Torpey thanked students Maiden Hanna, Spencer Chinn and Jonah Fairley and district staff members Nic McMaster, Marian Meadows, Gisela Sandoval, Hastings and Cassidy for going above and beyond.
In addition to those already listed, Ahmadi praised “our amazing students” and a long list of staff members including teachers, counselors, child nutrition staff, purchasing and warehouse staff, accounting and payroll staff, human resources, custodians, social workers, and site administrators. Individually, she recognized Torpey, Sherri Beetz, Jason Reimann, Aimee Cayere, Peter Vallejo, Greg Ko and Suzy Chan.
Despite all of the fear and stress that surround the COVID-19 pandemic, it is amazing to see how our community is coming together to help others stay healthy and stay safe. There are many opportunities to help.
“Check in with your family, friends, neighbors and community to see how they are doing and if they need help. It is easy to do. Stand up, step up and just do it!” said volunteer Jennifer Oliver.
Olympian staff members Milagros Aquino, Megan Baldwin, Miguel Bernas, Leo Lin, Malin Johansson and Hannah Pilgrim contributed to this report.