Penticton's Chinese community works together to give back to first responders via a special Chinese New Year lunch

Chinese community helps

It will be a very different Chinese New Year celebration this time. No gatherings, music and laughter. But one thing remains - food will be shared.

A group of local Chinese families are preparing a special holiday lunch for the Penticton Regional Hospital workers – dumplings, spring rolls and sesame balls. 160 lunches will be prepared at the commercial kitchen, pre-packaged and delivered to the healthcare workers this week.

In March 2020, when COVID-19 hit home, Chinese families raised funds to support the frontline healthcare workers at the Penticton Regional Hospital.

“One of our community members working at the hospital informed us that the healthcare workers urgently needed protection equipment. Some of them were using snorkeling goggles trying to protect themselves. Due to the pandemic, we were not able to physically collect funds, so we set up a fundraiser on “Go Fund Me”, remembers Yaxin Ma, one of the organizers of the initiative. Yaxin adds: “One of the donors said that soldiers do not need to worry about food and bullets on the battlefield, we can help”.

Yaxin Ma, Mark Cheung and George Manz were responsible for the financial side of the

fundraiser. Due to the scarcity of protection equipment, the group had to search for suppliers in China. However, the local Interior Health office notified them that a special license is required for that, so the fundraisers purchased alternative items locally online.

They raised $3, 800 and donated 500 masks, 140 face shields, five protective gowns, and an intubation protector (donated by a Chinese-Canadian business from Vancouver) to the Penticton Regional Hospital. These items went to the emergency room, cardiology and endoscopy departments, long-term care, and hospital kitchen.

“What was really touching is that some donors, such as Yiyang Shen and Wei Liu, were struggling in unemployment at that moment, yet still offered to help support such an important and urgent cause. Healthcare workers are angels that protect us, and we don’t want them to get hurt.” – continues Yaxin. “Many of us have received kindness and support from the local community when we were newcomers here, including our neighbours, the South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services (SOICS) and other organizations. We want to give back to the community.”

Chinese New Year begins Friday, Feb. 12, 2021.

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