CALIFORNIA — When Sky Yang founded nonprofit Break the Outbreak in March, he had a website and a vision of outfitting essential workers with protective gear.
“Our operations were small at the time, and we had to finance them on our own,” said Yang, a rising senior at Dublin High School in the Bay Area, in an email interview. “Initially, we faced rejections from many restaurants. But we persevered.”
Months later, Break the Outbreak is in the process of expanding to 28 chapters across 14 states, with more than 200 members in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles and elsewhere, organizers said. Members have created and donated more than 2,000 masks to food industry workers stocking shelves and serving up meals.
Break the Outbreak has a strong Bay Area presence, but has expanded in California and across the country, in cities such as New York City and Salt Lake City. The nonprofit’s first donation was to East Bay restaurant Rigatoni’s in Dublin.
“Though we were social distancing and wearing masks, I could see the happiness on [the co-owner’s] face when we handed him the box of [protective gear],” said Ansh Tripathi, associate founder of the organization.
Since then, Break the Outbreak has donated resources to dozens of workplaces and individuals across the country. San Ramon members have donated to Bay Area health care facilities, Dublin members donated to a World War II veteran, Salt Lake City members have donated to the University of Utah and Pleasanton members have donated to the local farmers market.
Break the Outbreak had raised $2,800 through a GoFundMe online fundraising campaign as of Thursday morning, but is looking to continue to identify additional donors willing to help support its efforts and workplaces in need of donations.
Finding a way to help amid unsettling times has been grounding, said Kanchan Naik, the nonprofit’s media outreach director, in an email.
“With a global pandemic outside, it’s easy to lose yourself in the initial waves of fear and anxiety, while also balancing a myriad of academic responsibilities,” he wrote. “But working for Break the Outbreak both requires and creates strength.”
Follow Break the Outbreak on Instagram and request supplies here.
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This article originally appeared on the Beverly Hills Patch