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Alumni’s Connect for Covid campaign raises over 33K, donates hundreds of electronic devices to patients

<p>Former University athletes describe the impact of Connect for Covid.</p>
<h6>Courtesy of Brendan Bowling ’18</h6>

Former University athletes describe the impact of Connect for Covid.

Courtesy of Brendan Bowling ’18

Thousands of COVID-19 patients in New Jersey have no access to a communication device and are unable to message with family members and friends. Two University alumni are working to change that.

Brothers Sunny Sandhu ’20 and Manraj Singh ’16 have created Connect For Covid, a campaign that distributes donated devices to patients in need. So far, the campaign has collected over $33,000 in donations nationally and delivered approximately 300 devices to patients. According to the brothers, they are on track to deliver around 500 more in the coming months.

With a specific focus on New Jersey, the state with the second highest number of COVID-19 cases, the brothers enlisted friends from the University to help launch the #TigersHelpingNJ social media campaign. The campaign, which draws upon the familial-style bonds of athletic teams, asks the wider University community to return the gift of family to those who cannot currently connect.

This sentiment is captured in a video released by Connect For Covid a few days ago. The video includes messages from some of Princeton Athletics’ most successful alumni, including New York Knicks vice president of player development Craig Robinson ’83, water polo star and Olympic gold medalist Ashleigh Johnson ’17, and former Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett ’89.

The creator of the video, Gerson Leiva ’16, explained his conception of the campaign. According to Leiva, the question that animates the campaign is, “What does family mean to you?”

Since its launch, #TigersHelpingNJ has brought in over $8,958, according to the latest count, with over 190 donors.

The #TigersHelpingNJ campaign came about with Princeton friends reconnecting to help their community. The team that put together the campaign — comprised of Jacob Cannon ’17, R.J. Paige ’17, Brendan Bowling ’18, and Leiva — is comprised of Tigers, many of whom were friends during their time at the University. 

Cannon heads the finance side of the operation, helping secure relationships with organizations willing to donate. He said his driving principle in organizing the finances is efficiency.

“We care a lot about having the most impact for the dollars that are donated,” he said.

Paige, as a former football player at the University, was vital in shaping the message of the #TigersHelpingNJ campaign. Describing the campaign, he said that talking to one person had a domino effect, which led to a groundswell of support.

Looking to the future, Connect For Covid is hoping to stock up on devices in case of another surge of coronavirus cases. “We hope that there is a reduction in COVID-19 patients, but there still needs to be that supply in place that can be there, on call, ready to go if there is a surge in a few months,” said Singh, the project’s national lead. 

Sandhu clarified, though, that the short-term vision remains focused on the nation’s hotspots, namely New Jersey, which has over 135,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date.

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“Our focus is to hit the hot spots where things are most needed, and right now that is New Jersey,” he said. “Having spent four years here, it is near and dear to our heart.”

Information on how to get involved may be found here.

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