By Aliyya Sawadjaan
Features Writer, The Philippine STAR
For two months, many parts of the country including the National Capital Region were under lockdown or enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). In those months, many businesses and places of work were closed in the hopes of curbing the spread of the virus. For many people, these were the hardest months of their lives. With work and public transportation suspended, many people had to rely on government subsidies and donations from the private sector and private individuals.
Millennials and Gen Zs were among those who dedicated their time and effort in helping the needy. In fact, many charitable initiatives were started by them, from donating money to organizations and fundraisers, making face shields and masks for frontliners, donating food packs to poor communities, to feeding stray animals.
Jarred Gaviola, a Grade 9 student from Muntinlupa, used his scholarship allowance and created his own fundraiser and donation drive to buy food and other necessities for the benefit of 100 families in barangays Tunasan and Bayanan of Muntinlupa, including his school’s canteen and utility staff. He also distributed pastries to medical and security frontliners. He’s also the president of the Key Club of Munsci Servant Leaders. He and other members of the organization initiated a special project called “Oplan COVID-19” to help residents and frontliners cope with the ECQ by giving relief packs to different locations in Muntinlupa.
Gaviola’s donation drive “Tara, tulong tayo: Food donation drive” aims to provide donated goods to the homeless and affected families of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Marcus Chu is a 16-year-old Grade 10 student who made face shield frames for medical frontliners using a 3D printer gifted by his parents. It takes him one hour and 20 minutes to print one frame. Once printed, acetate can be attached to make a reusable face shield.
Meanwhile, post-graduate students of West Visayas State University called for donations to make improvised face shields for the medical frontliners of West Visayas State University Medical Center and other Iloilo public hospitals. According to a Facebook post last March 26, Rhona MacEachen and the people involved in the initiative have given out more than 3,000 face shields to medical frontliners. The group has also donated gloves, thermometers, surgical caps and hoods.
Through collective effort, some initiated bringing prepared meals to frontliners or partnering with farmers to bring their crops to the metro for selling.
The 2011 high school batch of Chiang Kai Shek College along with their partner Batch 8 Brotherhood Inc., formed a project called Action Agad: Covid19 Task Force, to raise funds to provide 1,000 food packs to street dwellers around Manila. With the help of their batchmates, friends and generous donors, the group was able to raise P278,000 from the initial goal of P250,000. Excess funds were used for two other projects, namely Action Agad: Laban, Frontliners and Manila Food Drive.
Action Agad: Laban, Frontliners focused on providing hot meals to medical frontliners, specifically in Paranaque, Muntinlupa and Las Pinas cities while the Manila Food Drive aims to provide hot meals to at least 100 people per day around Manila.
Meanwhile, the 2003 high school batch of San Beda College Alabang rallied batchmates, friends and families to donate to a project called Bene 2003: The Clarion Call Donation Drive. The initiative, in partnership with Lawyers for Doctors and Call for Love Against COVID, aims to raise funds to provide medical supplies for medical frontliners. The group was able to collect more than P100,000 and used the funds to provide medical equipment such as personal protective equipment (PPE), hazmat suits, N95 face masks, and aerosol boxes to six hospitals in four cities.
A group of mountaineers was also able to help out numerous communities through their numerous initiatives. Random Act of Kindness or RAK, through their RAK: Operation Kindness donation drive, was able to commission a community in Banaba, San Mateo to produce medically-sound and reusable face masks and soaps that are essential in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
With the money raised from the drive, they funded materials for these products and bought these at a fair price from the sewers. The masks and soaps were then donated to 400 residents from different sitios surrounding Daraitan and Kaliwa rivers, and 150 residents in six barangays in Caloocan and San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.
Their second project involved partnering with Dumagat farmers to help them sell their produce in the capital. They have since created the Facebook page Talepaan, dedicated to selling various products from these farmers. Talepaan is a Dumagat word for the marketplace. For their third project during the ECQ, RAK partnered with Human Heart Nature to donate relief packs to 204 Dumagat families from five sitios of Daraitan-Tinipak, Makidata, Baykuran, Cablao and Yok-yok. The beneficiaries live in off-the-grid communities along the Sierra Madre mountains.
Millennials and Gen Zs often get a bad rap as many people see them as lazy or entitled. But when it comes to making a positive difference, these young people are driven to make that change possible.
To help the Dumagat farmers, visit Talepaan at www.facebook.com/talepaan.