Light in a Pandemic

Freshman Mahika Kanchanam helps raise personal protective equipment for physicians and the people who are helping during the hardships of COVID-19.

Anna Pipinos, Staff Writer

“Big or small, celebrity or common, there are several inspiring stories of how the community is coming together to support each other. I felt like I had to do something. I had to do my share of it. Every small thing counts when the need is so much,” freshman Mahika Kanchanam said. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, M. Kanchanam set out to start a drive to raise PPE, personal protective equipment, for the healthcare workers who place their lives in peril every day. 

“Here we are, sitting at home, socially distancing, and still worried, while the doctors and nurses are fighting the frontlines, risking their lives. They probably don’t have time to even cope with what they are seeing, to unwind, or to think about themselves. But despite all of that, they are prepared to go in every day to help save the lives of others,” M. Kanchanam said. 

The drive began with many unknowns, but with proper research and the help of family and friends, M. Kanchanam was able to begin a GoFundMe page for donations and spread the word by using social media platforms, phone calls, and text messages. 

“With this initiative, it feels like she has grown up and is ready to take her chances stepping out into the world a little more boldly. She now knows that when you try to do the right things, people will support,” father Ramesh Kanchanam said. 

Currently, M. Kanchanam has raised $3,699 from 85 donors and another $300 from her family, and she hopes to reach a total of $5,000. She has been coordinating with volunteers, 3D printers, suppliers, and local hospitals, and she utilizes the funds to cover materials and supplies. So far, she has 265 face masks, 100 scrub caps, 675 face shields, 200 eye protection wear, and 150 ear savers. M. Kanchanam has donated to Children’s Hospital, Millard Public Schools custodians, Nebraska Medicine, and Alegent Lakeside, along with several other places lined up.

“The best part is the people, who have been amazingly supportive, and the feeling that I’m making a difference. It felt good to be able to say thank you to Millard custodial staff in the form of masks or to the ER staff in the form of scrub caps and face shields,” M. Kanchanam said. 

With the aspiration to go into the medical field, M. Kanchanam hopes to continue helping the community around her and encourage others to do the same. 

“My parents always say, ‘Irrespective of what you become in life, it’s important to be a good person. You should do whatever you can to help others not harm them.’ That always stays with me. While there were so many tragic stories on one side, there were many amazing stories as well, on how people were finding ways to help each other,” M. Kanchanam said.