Recent philosophy grad establishes protective equipment donation project

Kirsten Schlorff
June 11, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — More than 4,200 pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been donated and distributed since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to the ongoing efforts of a recent Penn State graduate.

Since late March, when the COVID-19 outbreak first reached Pennsylvania, Ruiqi Yin, who earned her bachelor’s degree in philosophy in spring 2020, has collaborated with Mark Sentesy, assistant professor of philosophy and classics and ancient Mediterranean studies, and Maureen Sentesy Wagner, a registered nurse, to establish a donation process to get PPE to clinics, hospitals and organizations in need.

Both Yin and Sentesy serve as contact points for incoming donations, while Wagner identifies and contacts the donation locations; inspects, cleans and packs the PPE; and facilitates the delivery or shipping of all donations.

Yin said she was inspired to launch the initiative after learning that many hospitals and medical clinics nationwide and locally were unable to provide adequate PPE to protect their employees and professionals who were risking their lives on the front lines. She posted donation information for the project in local Chinese group chats and solicited donations from acquaintances, family and friends.

“Ruiqi connected to and mobilized a very impressive and generous group of people,” Sentesy said. “She is resourceful, careful and acts on the principle of what will make the world better.”

Personal protective equipment

To date, the project has donated 3,675 surgical masks, 456 KN95 masks, 111 N95 masks, and a face shield to local, state and national clinics, hospitals and organizations in need. In addition to PPE donations, the project has collected $1,600, which they used to purchase additional masks.

IMAGE: Mark Sentesy

Donors are asked to label their donations with the name of either a front-line hospital or a local clinic, based on where they want the supplies sent. If a destination is not specified, the donations are shipped to locations determined by Wagner, who chooses them based on where supplies are most needed.

Unlike most PPE donation efforts, the community of donors for this project are mostly Asian or of Asian descent. In fact, some of the donors reside outside the United States; still others are citizens of other countries.

“Penn State students and their families here and abroad have shown their commitment to helping save lives here in State College, but also more broadly in Pennsylvania and the United States,” Sentesy said.

Initially, Yin was worried about whether people would participate and donate at the beginning of this project. She said she was surprised by its success and has learned valuable lessons from the experience.

“Through organizing and managing this project, I have learned that it’s not about how much I can do, but rather how much I am willing to do,” Yin said. “The outpouring of support has been absolutely amazing.”

To date, the project has donated 3,675 surgical masks, 456 KN95 masks, 111 N95 masks, and a face shield to local, state and national clinics, hospitals and organizations in need. In addition to PPE donations, the project has collected $1,600, which they used to purchase additional masks.

“Thank you to all the donors who have participated in our project and provided donations, as well as to the hospitals for their collaborative work and trust,” Sentesy said. “This shows the strength and power of the Penn State community and brings us all into a closer, more supportive community.”

“We Are” stories

The “We Are” spirit is perhaps more important than ever before, and Penn Staters everywhere are coming together in new and amazing ways. During these challenging times, our community is continuing to realize Penn State’s commitment to excellence through acts of collaboration, thoughtfulness and kindness. As President Eric Barron has written on Digging Deeper, this truly is a “We Are” moment.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 11, 2020