Local and international communities bolster UW during pandemic

PPE boxes stacked

During a crisis, a supportive community can make a major difference. Fortunately, UW–Madison has friends in Wisconsin, across the U.S., and around the world.

PPE boxes stacked
MACCO procured 3,000 masks for UW-Madison in effort to support the university during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Madison Area Chinese Community Organization (MACCO) recently showed their support for UW–Madison with a donation of 3,000 face masks to protect the campus community and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Being a part of a strong community is important to people in Madison,” said Bin Ran, professor of civil and environmental engineering and member of MACCO. “For many, UW–Madison forms the center of this community, so we have to make sure the university is taken care of somehow.”

Members of MACCO, the Chinese American community group, led by President Dr. Connie Li, began by collecting funds and PPE donations from members and nonmembers. However, MACCO knew that funds were only part of the challenge—finding a trustworthy mask producer is just as important.

The group reached out to friends and colleagues across the U.S. and around the world to find a reliable source for the masks. Ultimately, MACCO board, members, and affiliates were able to help make connections to ensure that the masks would be reliable. These connections helped speed the process of procuring the masks and getting them to Madison.

Thanks to the efforts of MACCO, the university will be able to distribute the 3,000 masks to where they are needed most, protecting staff, faculty, and students. The organization is exploring a second wave of donations, considering how to bolster local food banks and acquire more PPE. Ran hopes that the gift from MACCO will inspire more alumni and community members to also take action.

“MACCO, myself, and Connie—we are trying to motivate more people to do something,” said Ran, who along with Li, his wife, made additional personal donations of masks to the College of Engineering and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “If people have some extra money, make a donation. If they have reliable channels, help procure PPE. Even if it is only 50 masks, every single one helps.”

Crowds gather on Wisconsin Chinese Culture Day
MACCO connects with the community through a variety of outreach initiatives, including the annual Wisconsin Chinese Culture Day.

Global community

In addition to the generosity of organizations like MACCO, support has come in from alumni and institutional partners in China. Alumni chapter leaders in China successfully coordinated a campaign to provide PPE and other resources for the campus community. Nanjing University and Peking University, longtime partners of UW–Madison, also provided PPE. Additionally, the UW Chinese Visiting Scholars Association & Chinese Parents Group worked to donate a substantial number of masks to UW Health.

“The tremendous outpouring of support from our friends in Madison and throughout the world is welcome and appreciated during these difficult times,” said Guido Podestá, vice provost and dean of the International Division at UW–Madison. “Actions like these show the importance of international friendship and building communities that can work together to solve problems impacting the entire world.”

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is grateful to MACCO and all of our alumni, friends, and partners around the world who continue to offer their support.