Initiative sees students donate thousands of spare face masks

Face mask donations with notes from students

Our international students are participating in a drive to donate vital Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to frontline NHS and care staff, thanks to an initiative by International Student Support Officer Tim Cooper and Students' Union (SU) International Student Officer Sissi Li.

Following the establishment of a scheme to collect spare face masks from students at the University of Leeds, itself set up by former University of Sheffield Libraries Officer Jiani Liu, Tim and Sissi got together virtually to plan a similar operation in Sheffield.

Having recognised that staying at home during lockdown meant that she was not needing to use as many masks as usual, Sissi had originally started by donating some of her own supply to shop staff near her home before realising that a lot of students felt the same way. With the help of SU colleagues, she identified Sheffield Churches Council for Community Care (SCCCC) as an effective distributor of masks to the care sector and launched an appeal online and using social media.

Echoing the successes of the Leeds scheme, within a matter of days almost 2,500 masks were collected from students in residences all over Sheffield, with more than 50 households having signed up so far using the online form.

All of us who have been involved in this scheme have been moved by the warm-hearted generosity of young people stranded thousands of miles from home and yet who are thinking about the needs of the community in which they are now living.

Tim Cooper, International student support officer

The great majority of donors were students from China, many of whose families had sent PPE to them from overseas and asked them to share with any local people that might need it. Tim said: "All of us who have been involved in this scheme have been moved by the warm-hearted generosity of young people stranded thousands of miles from home and yet who are thinking about the needs of the community in which they are now living."

All masks have been collected and distributed without any physical contact, adhering to current social distancing rules, and students have been asked to write cheerful notes to stick on their packages in an effort to boost the morale of key workers and to show appreciation for their dedication throughout this crisis.

Sissi said: "Facing this unprecedented pandemic, everyone is trying to do whatever they can to get through it as safely as possible. As residents of Sheffield, and especially as international students, we see Sheffield as our second home and want to contribute to local society in any capacity we can. In addition to staying home, this is just one little thing that we can do for our Sheffield community."

The scheme is open to all students, both home and international, and is still taking donations via this Google form.

Face mask donations with notes from students

A key worker receiving face mask donations

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