ANAHEIM, Calif. — There is power in numbers. Manuel Santiago is taking a stand against the coronavirus pandemic.
“Being able to pack these kits gives me a sense of comfort knowing that the people taking care of these kits will feel safer at the end of the day,” said Manuel Santiago, public relations coordinator at 7 Leaves Cafe.
Santiago and 30 of his coworkers are volunteering for the second time to assemble COVID-19 test kits.
“At 7 Leaves Cafe, we’re all about being the change,” said Santiago. He and his coworkers work for a coffee shop chain that’s hailed as the Vietnamese American Starbucks. The team put together more than 13,000 kits the first time they volunteered to help 360 Clinic which is a network of community-based health care providers that tests Orange County residents at several sites including at the Anaheim Convention Center.
“Not only is it inspiring for one another, but for me myself, someone who has been looking to do events like this and find a company who is being the change,” said Santiago.
While more people in Orange County are getting the COVID vaccine, the demand for testing remains. 360 Clinic currently tests about 5,000 residents a week.
“The vaccine does not fully protect against COVID-19 and we do not have adequate data to fully know if vaccination protects against asymptomatic spread of COVID. COVID variants are still around and may make vaccines less responsive so we are not out of the woods yet to let our guard down,” said 360 Clinic’s Chief Strategic Health Officer Dr. Dung Trinh.
In order to keep up with that demand, the clinic needs at least 30 volunteers a month to pack test swabs and tubes into biohazard bags for 3 hours.
Volunteer coordinator Lana Nguyen walks everyone through the process.
“There are still people who believe in it and think that it’s important to volunteer. They’re helping stop the spread which I think is very cool,” said 13-year-old Lana Nguyen. Lana was 360 Clinic’s first graphic designer. She volunteers every month by showing people how to assemble the test kits. “For me, I don’t think I’d want to be anywhere else,” said Lana.
This time around, Santiago and his coworkers put together 12,700 kits. He said the pandemic kept him away from socializing and seeing his friends. However, Santiago is happy that volunteering allows them to help their community overcome this pandemic together.
360 Clinic is actively searching for large groups of volunteers. Please visit: 360clinic.md.