ALTOONA, Pa. -- In cities across the globe, groups and individuals are coming together to support the doctors and nurses who are facing COVID-19 head-on.
That compassionate spirit is within Angela Buccellato. The Michigan native attended Penn State Altoona from 2012-14, then graduated from University Park with a degree in business focused on industrial/organizational psychology.
Now living in the metro Detroit area, she is the owner of The Resume Rescue, a career services company helping job seekers of all levels with their resumes, LinkedIn profiles, interview preparation, networking, and career coaching.
Over the last month, Buccellato has watched the area get pummeled by the coronavirus. To date, the city of Detroit has more than 8,300 reported cases of the virus and 799 deaths, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Desperate to help, Buccellato considered what she could do and how to get the community behind her. She decided that keeping healthcare workers fed was one way to offer immediate assistance. Reaching out through social media, she began gathering donations to order and deliver food to hospital staff caring round the clock for patients with COVID-19.
“I've always had such high respect for healthcare workers. Two of my closest friends, one of whom I met at Penn State Altoona when we were orientation leaders, are nurses, and they continue to amaze me," Buccellato said. "Neither one is afraid of this, they’ve just jumped right into the fight.”
So far, Buccellato has raised $4,480 and fed 1,250 health care staff across five shifts at four hospitals. She is currently raising money to get meals to 300 employees at Beaumont Hospital in Troy. Her goal is to supply each of the hospitals in the metro area with a meal for at least one day, then start the rotation again.
“Some of these people are working 10 days in a row, 12 to 16 hours a day. They may only get five minutes during their entire shift to eat," she said. "Sure, these donations aren't life-saving, but the least we can do is have a hot meal ready and waiting for them.”
Buccellato is working with local, family-owned restaurants and shops to prepare and deliver the food, in order to also support small businesses at the same time.
She is also collecting and delivering homemade masks for hospital workers.
“The idea for masks came to me quickly after the pandemic hit because hospitals in my area were experiencing such a shortage of materials," Buccellato said. "My best friend would send me a picture of the mask she had used for a week straight.”
Like the request for meal funding, the call for masks went out over social media and spread through word of mouth. And once again, the community rushed to back her mission. One woman who is part of a local quilting shop contacted everyone on the business’s mailing list about making masks and supplied the fabric to volunteers, one of whom alone has made 300.
“I've been dropping them off all over the place," Buccellato said. "Wherever there is a need, I make it happen.”
More than 600 masks have been made so far and distributed to the same hospitals Buccellato has delivered food to, as well as other essential establishments such as food banks, medical offices, and outpatient clinics.
As she works to collect these donations, Buccellato is reminded of her involvement with THON and the feeling of coming together as a community.
“Through my time at Penn State, I developed a deeper love for volunteering and working with the community," she said.
"What is really cool is that numerous people from the University have reached out to me with donations. The Penn State connection never runs out, no matter how long it has been since graduation.”
-Angela Buccellato, Penn State Altoona alumna
Buccellato plans to continue raising funds and collecting masks as long as there is a need. Nurses, doctors, and others on the front lines deserve to know that they are revered and appreciated and that their sacrifices during this devastating time are not going unnoticed.
“We truly don't give our healthcare workers enough credit. Those on the front lines are literally risking their lives and even must quarantine themselves away from their loved ones," she said. "We all need to come together and help out in any way we can.”
'We Are' stories
The “We Are” spirit is perhaps more important than ever before, and Penn Staters everywhere are coming together in new and amazing ways. During these challenging times, our community is continuing to realize Penn State’s commitment to excellence through acts of collaboration, thoughtfulness and kindness. As President Eric Barron has written on Digging Deeper, this truly is a “We Are” moment — and we want to hear your “We Are” stories.
Visit news.psu.edu/WeAre to share how you or other Penn Staters are supporting each other to overcome the collective challenges presented by the novel coronavirus. We are!