SANTA CLARA (KPIX) – All across the country, people are stepping up to do what they can to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic and the virus may be helping a generation find its power and its character.

When WWII began in this country, young people of the Greatest Generation began pitching in to collect scarce materials to help the troops on the front lines. It looks like it’s happening again.

“I feel like we are responsible for our lives and for the lives of others,” said Santa Clara University student Judith Li.

She and a group of fellow students delivered nearly 5,000 face masks to a Stanford medical collection site Saturday afternoon.

The SCU campus is deserted these days, except for the international students. So, they called home and, using their connections in China, were able to purchase medical grade masks to give to health care workers in this county.

“We all have a shared future and this coronavirus is an enemy to all humankind,” Li said. “It’s not a problem for a particular country or a particular race or ethnicity.”

And Li is not alone. Sixteen-year old Angelina Lue, a junior at Los Altos High School, started a GoFundMe page to raise money for protective gear. She raised more than her goal of $10,000 but that was just the first challenge.

“I was, like, where can we get these masks because hospitals obviously are having trouble finding them? How are we supposed to?” she said.

But Lue, too, has connections. At age 14, she created a clothing line called Ivory Tees to raise money to protect endangered elephants. So, she used her clothing industry contacts to find a facemask supplier overseas and now she and her friends have donated 10,400 surgical masks to 11 Bay Area hospitals and health clinics.

“This project gave us a sense of purpose, like, we’re doing something. We have something, a goal to focus on …something to get us through this challenging time,” said Lue.

This generation, which was supposed to be so tech-absorbed, so socially disconnected, is discovering the awesome power that individuals have to affect real change in the world.

“I do think it changes our generation’s outlook, because we also are noticing we can make a difference through social media, too, in a bigger way,” Angelina said. “I think that there is definitely a lesson to learn from every struggle, from every hardship.”

Just as in WWII, we are once again locked in a worldwide conflict and it’s hard to know how this generation will be remembered. But there is a difference. This time we’re all on the same side.

The Santa Clara students’ donations were financed by their own families. But Angelina is still taking donations on her GoFundMe page, if you want to help.

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