NJ teens ask for $5 to help front-liners during pandemic
Two teen siblings from Monmouth County have teamed up to launch the nonprofit 5Help.org, which asks donors to contribute at least $5, or more if they choose, to help workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Drew Paglia said he and his sister Heather initially intended to help stimulate small businesses, but quickly expanded their focus to include essential workers.
They have now partnered with another volunteer organization, the New Jersey EMS Task Force, attending to needs like proper personal protective equipment.
"They explained that even the PPE that they're getting was expired in 2007, so we found that very troubling," Drew said. "And they're also not getting meals at all."
Night shift workers especially are not receiving needed meals, according to Drew, with efforts similar to 5Help primarily concerned with assisting the day shift.
Heather said the front-line heroes who are benefiting from 5Help's ingenuity and generosity have not been hesitant to express their appreciation.
"We're thankful for what they're doing, but we didn't realize how thankful they would be for what we're doing to help them out," she said.
For Drew and Heather, being able to put smiles on people's faces during a tough time gives them satisfaction.
The nonprofit has not only made an impact in New Jersey, but its outreach has also extended to New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas and Nevada so far.
Another active partnership is with Rutgers icon Eric LeGrand and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, and the Paglias hope to make an imprint in New Jersey's nursing homes once restrictions there begin to ease.
Whenever the pandemic subsides, Drew said 5Help will continue, with an "ongoing platform" to include assisting after both natural and manmade disasters, and feeding the poor.