Meals for MedStar

Interview with Krista Wong and Jai Tran

Written by CAPA-JRC reporters Amy He and Joy Jiang




Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, medical staff in hospitals are working overtime to care for patients battling the novel coronavirus. To express their thanks, Krista Wong and Jai Tran, two juniors at Winston Churchill High School, organized a fundraiser to provide meals to hospital units across Montgomery County. Not only does their project give medical personnel free meals, but it also supports small-scale restaurants that are experiencing dramatic decreases in customers due to the coronavirus shutdown.

After seeing many other peers creating fundraisers that donated protective gear to medical workers, Wong wanted to move in a different direction. Ultimately, she decided to provide meals to hospital staff through collected monetary donations. At first, Wong gathered a group of friends to initiate her project, but soon realized that it was best to move forward with a single partner: Tran. “[It was] very hard to coordinate with a lot of people since everyone [had] their own schedule and it would [have been] hard to discuss things,” Wong said. “The group ended up reducing to just me and Jai.”

The pair took to social media to spread the word about their fundraiser, posting on Instagram, notifying group chats on WeChat, and sharing information via various other media platforms. Soon after, donations started to pour in. “When we received the first few donations, I was elated,” Tran said. “After that, the number of donations just seemed to keep coming in at a rapid pace. So far, we’ve raised $2,395 in just barely over two weeks.”

With the success of their fundraiser, Wong and Tran moved onto the second phase of their plan: finding a hospital that was willing to accept meal donations, and a restaurant that was willing to supply those meals at a cheap price. They contacted several facilities and finally settled on MedStar Montgomery Medical Center in Olney, Maryland.

However, after reaching out to MedStar Health, Wong and Tran discovered that they had to meet several requirements in order to donate meals. The meals had to be individually packaged and come with individually wrapped utensils. “It was kind of a struggle to find restaurants that are open and willing to meet those requirements for hundreds of meals,” said Wong. Eventually, they found the East Pearl Restaurant in Rockville. The restaurant was fortunately also willing to give them a discount because the meals were intended for medical workers.

Wong and Tran’s fundraiser also works to support restaurants during these unprecedented times. “Because [East Pearl Restaurant] is a Chinese-owned business,” said Tran, “it’s also good to support Asian-owned businesses which are struggling during this pandemic because of the stigma caused by racism surrounding the coronavirus.”

After seeing people’s donations to their cause in such a short span of time, Wong said, “I think it was really heartwarming that people would donate any sum of money… it was really eye-opening to see how the community came together for each other and especially for medical staff during these difficult times.”

But while the fundraiser is one way to combat the coronavirus, other simpler ways cannot be forgotten. Wong and Tran encourage people to continue to stay home and wash their hands during the pandemic to avoid contracting the virus. “By not getting sick, you’re not only benefiting yourself, but [also] medical staff and those around you as well, especially those at a greater risk,” Tran advised. More information about precautions to take to prevent getting the coronavirus can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

To donate to Wong and Tran’s fundraiser and read more about their cause, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-for-medical-staff.


This article was provided by Chinese American Parents Association Junior Reporter Club (CAPA JRC) with members who interviewed, audio recorded, wrote, translated, and video recorded. CAPA JRC has 19 Montgomery County middle to high school students. They have created a bilingual platform delivering news and serving the community.

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