Chandler, AZ #chandler-az – A Chandler teenager spent her summer raising hundreds of dollars to buy meals for local healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eliana DeTata, 16, has collected nearly $2,500 in donations to buy meals from local restaurants for nurses and doctors working the graveyard shift at Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center.
Eliana spent the last couple weeks delivering more than 200 burritos from Serrano’s Mexican Restaurants and 160 macaroni-and-cheese bowls from Gilbert’s Elbows Mac N’ Cheese.
The Hamilton High School student said she was inspired to spearhead the philanthropy project after reading an emotional Facebook post written by Renee Lopez, a local nurse, about the strain COVID-19 was afflicting on her hospital’s staff.
“We are placing 2-4 patients in a single patient room, creating makeshift hallway rooms, turning storage closets into rooms, and we are beyond stretched thin,” the nurse wrote.
Lopez claimed her hospital had already hit its maximum capacity and their parking lots were having to hold lines of patients waiting to be seen in the emergency room.
“Daily decisions are being made as to who will get resources to live, and who will not,” the nurse added.
Eliana said Lopez’s brutal honesty about working under the conditions of a pandemic motivated her to find a way to help out the medical community.
She then stumbled upon articles about residents in New York City dropping off catered meals at hospitals and decided she would try to do the same in Chandler.
“I loved the idea and wanted to do that here as COVID hospitalizations were rising here in Arizona,” Eliana said.
Eliana said she has attempted to maintain a positive attitude throughout the pandemic and has been uplifted by how so many people were inclined to help her complete her project.
“This project brought me joy and appreciation during this time because all of my family, friends, and even strangers were so willing to help in any way they could,” she said.
Eliana said she has never undertaken a charity project on this scale before. Yet, she didn’t feel intimidated about venturing out and asking others for help during the process.
It turned out there were lots of people eager to support her mission in any way possible, she said.
The local restaurants were willing to stay open longer and prepare food late at night so Eliana could drop meals off during a hospital’s graveyard shift.
“They also worked with me so I can stretch my money to provide as many meals as possible,” she added.
The teenager said she’s not sure how long she’ll continue fundraising and delivering meals to the hospital.
Though she has received support from so many other people in the community, she realizes her project may become harder to sustain the longer the pandemic drags on for.
“I loved reading all of the appreciation from the nurses, but I don’t know how to raise money ongoing, especially during a pandemic,” Eliana said.
Even if she’s not able to continue the charity project, Eliana said she hopes it may have the lasting impact of encouraging people living in other cities to support their healthcare workers in whatever way they can.
“I hope my efforts may inspire someone else in the community to do something similar, like I was inspired by the woman in New York,” she added.
Eliana is still accepting donations through a page on GoFundMe.com.