Dartmouth Community Finds Ways to Help Amid the Pandemic

Social isolation doesn't block students, faculty or staff from creative solutions.

Across the Dartmouth community, scattered during the pandemic, students, faculty, and staff are taking stock of their talents and resources and putting them to service to help in this unprecedented time of crisis. The following are just a few of the many stories of service. If you have a story of good works to share, send it to [email protected] with the subject heading: GOOD NEWS BLOG.

Matching Essential Workers With People Filling Needs

Dartmouth roommates Rine Uhm '22 and Amy Guan '20 launched Give Essential, an organization that matches essential workers directly with donors who can send them much-needed items. Guan, who is taking classes remotely from her Princeton, N.J., home, kept in touch with Uhm, who is isolating at home in Hanover, and the two decided that they needed to do something to help the people on the front lines who are working during the pandemic.

"With my senior spring getting canceled and losing graduation, I wanted to stop moping around and instead put my energy into something positive to help out with all the horrible things that have emerged because of coronavirus," Guan wrote on a social media post to the Dartmouth community.

Through their Give Essential website, Guan and Uhm want to connect essential workers to people who have items such as protective equipment, gear to support homebound kids like electronics, or board games, and family care items, such as soap, detergent, and household products. Essential workers can sign up for materials that they need, and potential donors sign up, indicating what they want to help with. After the site matches essential workers with donors, it facilitates delivery between the two. The initiative has received wide media attention including from NJ.com and the Valley News, and the site has facilitated thousands of connections in less than a month.

"There's been a ton of different fundraisers for different organizations going around, but we wanted to create a way for people to directly help and thank people for essentially keeping our lives going over the past few weeks," Guan says.

Boston-Area Sophomores Want to "Fuel Our Heroes"

Studying remotely in the Boston area during their sophomore spring term, Jason Zavras '22 and Nate Pucci '22 are building up an online fundraising site called Fuel Our Heroes. Started by Zavras in partnership with three other college students from across the country, the website raises money to provide personal protective equipment and other necessities for health care workers, like food, gas and, in some cases, accommodations.

With affiliates in major cities across the country, including Boston, Los Angeles, and Nashville, the site has raised more than $100,000 for hospitals nationwide. The Boston Fuel Our Heroes site supports health care workers through Massachusetts General Hospital.

"I think people realize that as much as it's really helping everyone, we do need to be really supportive of our front line workers who are continuing to work really hard as most of us are at home," Pucci told Boston 25 News.

"We are young, but also sort of on this fringe between being all into the world and being this younger generation that if we can unite and use our social media presence and connections, we can truly make a difference," Zavras told the news station.

Dartmouth Labs Send Truckloads of PPE to DHMC

Just after word went out that students would not return to campus for the spring term, Assistant Professor William Leavitt and Associate Professor Erich Osterberg were preparing to shut down their labs in the Earth Sciences Department. As they were working to shift their classes to remote learning, they realized that all across campus, soon-to-be shuttered science labs had supplies of N95 masks, gloves, protective clothing, face shields and even some RNA extraction agents vital to COVID-19 testing and greatly needed by Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center staff as the COVID-19 pandemic swept into the region.

"I think it gave folks a way to make a positive contribution. We were all sad to shut our labs down because that's what we enjoy doing, but I think people quickly realized that this is bigger than us all," Leavitt says.

Associate Dean for the Sciences Dan Rockmore forwarded Osterberg and Leavitt's plea for surplus personal protective equipment (PPE) in a March 19 email to all the laboratory sciences on campus. On March 20, drop boxes were set up in Fairchild Science complex, Remsen-Vail, the Class of 1978 Life Science Center, and at Thayer School of Engineering. The next day, March 21, Leavitt and his lab assistant Alec Cobban '19 delivered three-and-a-half pickup truck loads of PPE and other supplies to DHMC.

"People stepped up very quickly. From the time the first email went out, to dropping the supplies at the DHMC warehouse was just three days. It feels like a drop in the bucket, but it was good to be able to do something," Leavitt says.

Dartmouth Good News Roll Call

Dartmouth ROTC Cadet Jacob Rozak '21 and his brother Benjamin Rozak, an ROTC cadet at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, teamed up with their parents and neighbors in Massachusetts to make masks for their local hospital, MetroWest Medical Center. Using flannel, cotton, and other fabrics that they have available, the Rozaks gather around their family table to cut fabric and sew a set of masks every night. So far, they have donated 230 masks to hospital workers.

Max Roberts, an affiliated scholar with Dartmouth's Lynch Rocket Laboratory, is a member of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's special task force which is investigating ways to work with businesses, non-profits, research labs, health care providers and distribution and logistics firms to facilitate building and distributing personal protective equipment in the Los Angeles area.

James McLaughlin '20, Clay Kirwood '20, Nate Stuart '20, and Pete Fucigna '21 have raised more than $21,000 for the domestic hunger-relief organization Feeding America with their MOVID-19 mullet and/or mustache Instagram challenge. Participants are taking their social-distancing time to let their hair grow and raising money by challenging others to do the same, McLaughlin says.

For the latest information on Dartmouth's response to the pandemic visit the COVID-19 website.

William Platt can be reached at [email protected].