MASON, Ohio — While most high school students are preparing for final exams, Mason High School junior Jiahao Guo founded the Coronavirus Relief Project, which has become an international effort to get crucial PPE to workers and first responders on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic.
The 17-year-old and his classmates are working with their own friends at high schools in China to donate thousands of masks to hospitals and nonprofit organizations in the Cincinnati area.
Together, the students raise money on GoFundMe. Then the friends in China buy masks in person from accredited manufacturers and ship them back for Guo and his classmates to donate.
"You can see hundreds and thousands of places where you can purchase these masks online, but there's simply no way to guarantee their quality," said Guo. "That's why we're taking the steps to use our connections in China to buy them directly or from approved manufacturers."
So far, the students have raised more than $8,500 and have ordered around 12,000 masks. Roughly 700 of those masks have gone to UC Health and hundreds more to local nonprofits like Santa Maria Community Services, New Foundations Community Housing and Community Matters.
Guo has even gained national recognition, appearing on "Live with Kelly and Ryan" last week to discuss the project.
"In order to fully defeat COVID-19, the entire nation needs to come together so we can all help collectively," said Guo. "Whether it's by bringing supplies, whether it's by staying responsibly spaced, or by staying home."
He said his experience with the Coronavirus Relief Project over the last few months could influence his future.
"This whole pandemic has given me a whole new appreciation for the medical community and I definitely consider that one of the standout options," he said.