Alen Niu at North York General

Toronto high school student raises $8,000 and buys medical equipment from China for local hospital

A 16-year-old Toronto student has fundraised and donated close to $8,000 worth of medical equipment to North York General Hospital after recognizing the need for healthcare workers to have personal protective equipment.

Alen Niu, who is in Grade 11 at Upper Canada College, volunteered at the hospital gift shop prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Niu took initiative after seeing the impact that COVID-19 was having on hospitals and seeing how healthcare workers were risking their lives while being away from their families in order to help others. He noticed that workers were running low on masks and gloves via his discussions with various healthcare workers when they would stop by the gift shop on breaks.

Niu started to send emails to hospitals and manufacturers and received a reply from a hospital in the Beijing area that had an excess of masks, gowns, and gloves due to the decrease of COVID-19 in the area.

The hospital said they would sell the items to him, which was the impetus for his fundraising efforts.

The current pandemic has killed over 300,000 people worldwide and shuttered much of the world’s economy. There have thus far been over 80,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada, with more than 6,000 deaths. Ontario has more than 24,000 confirmed cases and a death count approaching 2,000.

“I want the community to be aware of what doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers have to go through on a daily basis during this time, and that there are ways to support them,” said Niu.

“I was amazed to hear the amount of money and supplies donated, but I wasn’t surprised when I heard it was Alen,” said Sheri Loosemore, North York General’s manager of volunteer services. “He is always putting his best foot forward, and striving to be the best he can be.”

Niu has since gone a step further with his fundraising and has now started an online fundraising campaign to continue buying supplies for all hospitals in need across Canada.

“As a Canadian, I cannot stand idle,” said Niu. “Although this was a great first run since the spread of this pandemic hasn’t stopped yet, I won’t stop helping our community and healthcare workers.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation can do so at Niu’s GoFundMe site.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO