Student volunteer-run organization donates nearly 200,000 pieces of PPE across the U.S.
As one of the only PPE distribution organizations in the U.S., PPE4ALL – founded by Yale and University of Michigan students – serves communities most impacted by the virus.
Courtesy of Emme Magliato and Krishna Kok
Since its founding in March 2020, the student volunteer-run organization, PPE4ALL, has donated almost 200,000 pieces of personal protective equipment, or PPE, to communities across the U.S.
Emme Magliato ’23, executive director, and Krishna Koka, a junior at the University of Michigan and CEO of PPE4ALL, started the organization in Poughkeepsie, NY. Since the organization’s founding, the team has distributed 566 separate donations of PPE, such as face masks, face shields, hand sanitizer, gloves, gowns and alcohol wipes to 399 different communities in the U.S. These recipients have included free clinics, homeless shelters, food pantries, mental health centers, community centers, schools, hospitals and people in low-income housing.
“The work that we’re doing now is on a national scale, and it’s one that incorporates a lot of different people and students alike,” Magliato said. “Our focus is to bring PPE completely for free to folks who are most in need and to those who are most marginalized and at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic … [and that] is a value that we have carried on to this day.”
When students were sent home from campus at the start of the pandemic, Koka noticed that New York was especially affected and that supply chains for PPE were down. As a result, he and Magliato began to partner with architectural firms in the city to 3D print face shields. Once the supply chain slowly began to recover, the organization moved to rely more on PPE donations from companies.
Tenzin Dhondup ’26, the outreach director of PPE4ALL, explained that the organization sources donors such as private companies that can provide large amounts of PPE. To identify communities most in need, the organization notes the average cases per 100,000 people in each county nationally to determine the counties that have the highest transmission and case rates.
After identifying those counties, the team researches specific locations that might be most in need of PPE, such as homeless shelters and low-income housing. The team also serves members who directly request PPE from PPE4ALL.
Magliato highlighted a collaboration with Bona Fide Masks that began a few months ago, which features a 100,000 mask donation program. According to Magliato, these masks will be donated to and distributed by non-profit organizations all over the nation, including Impact Services in Philadelphia and NorCal Resist in Sacramento.
“I’m really grateful to be in the position that I’m in where I get to interact with so many people, and we are the only folks that are supporting them in this way,” Magliato said. “The relationships we’ve been able to build, both as a team, but then also with the people that we serve, are the things that keep me going every day when things are hard.”
In terms of future work, the team noted that it wishes to focus on the sustainability of the organization, specifically in terms of sponsorship and funding.
“Our goal is pushing forward, knowing that while COVID-19 is disappearing from the news and being talked about less, there are so many communities that are still actively being harmed by COVID-19,” said Dhondup. “There’s always going to be a need for [PPE] … and PPE is still in demand based on the fact that we get daily requests from individuals, community members and nonprofits.”
Koka noted that when in-person events resumed, he was concerned that the organization would not survive the transition. However, he found that this was not the case.
Magliato said that many other PPE distribution organizations stopped their services before the outbreak of the Omicron variant, but that PPE4ALL has continued.
According to the CDC COVID Data Tracker, on Sep. 1, there were 85,761 new COVID-19 cases in the U.S.