Teens’ COVID Run fundraiser benefits donors, too

When two Homestead High School students decided to raise money for local residents experiencing food insecurity during quarantine, they also wanted to be sure donors to their fundraiser were staying healthy and engaged while sheltering in place.

So Andrew Borjigin and Kamran Hussain came up with COVID Run, an effort to raise $25,000 for Sunnyvale Community Services, West Valley Community Services and the Community Services Agency of Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. Since personal fitness is as important to the Cupertino teens as keeping community members from going hungry, they’re asking donors to run, walk or cycle a mile for every $5 they contribute.

“Fundraising and exercise both contribute to the health of our neighbors and community members,” the pair wrote in an email. “Money is important, but keeping active is just as crucial.”

The teens say they were inspired to start a fundraiser by news reports of people who lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic and could no longer afford to feed themselves or their families.

“Seeing the hardship, we did not want to sit back when we knew we can do something to help,” they wrote. “We knew there must be a way to help our neighbors and community members get access to food. Due to social distancing guidelines, we were not able to volunteer anywhere. However, we thought of starting a fundraiser to provide funds to local community service organizations.”

The pair chose community service agencies as their beneficiaries because these agencies “are well known by their respective communities and are

established services that have served (their) communities for decades.”

“This existing system already benefits thousands of people within Silicon Valley (and) they are locally based, ensuring that our fundraiser would make an impact that can be seen immediately.”

In an effort to raise their COVID Run’s profile, Andrew and Kamran are asking donors to post to social media when they engage in outdoor activity for the cause.

“Keeping people engaged while being under a lockdown was an interesting challenge,” they wrote. “We wanted to stray away from simply having a donate button on a GoFundMe.

“Both of us are fencers, so we are used to many hours of exercise a day. During quarantine, we have been running more, so we thought of this fundraiser as a way to use our daily runs for a bigger cause. Since running could be done with social distancing, it would be the perfect way to put people into action while still raising money.

“We hope to enable community members to take part in our fundraiser and attract more attention than a regular fundraiser that limits the participation to solely donations and lacks elements that involve everyone.”

For more information about COVID Run, including how to donate and where to post on social media, visit www.covidrun.org.


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Author: Anne Gelhaus