After the coronavirus pandemic forced the school season to end early and took away lacrosse practice, one high school sophomore decided to make the most of his free time by helping those in need.
TJ Kim took to the skies to deliver medical supplies to healthcare workers in rural parts of Virginia.
“They kind of conveyed to me that they were really forgotten about. Everyone was wanting to send donations to big city hospitals,” he told the AP. “Every hospital is hurting for supplies, but it’s the rural hospitals that really feel forgotten.”
Since the 16-year-old can’t drive yet, he’s been utilizing his piloting abilities to deliver masks, gloves, and gowns to small hospitals.
When COVID-19 took everything away from him, Kim wanted to find a way “fly and serve” at the same time, so he came up with “Operation SOS – Supplies Over Skies,” the Associated Press reports.
In his latest trip, the outlet reports that he flew “3,000 gloves, 1,000 headcovers, 500 shoe covers, 50 non-surgical masks, 20 pairs of protective eyewear and 10 concentrated bottles of hand sanitizer” to a hospital in Woodstock.
His flight instructor, Dave Powell, was impressed with Kim’s desire to help others.
“For TJ to be more concerned with the needs of others in his melancholy state just reiterated to me how amazing this young man is,” he said.
Kim’s goal is to reach all seven rural hospitals that are labeled “critical access.”
His passion for flying began when his father bought him a flying lesson for his 15th birthday. Since then, he’s been taking flying lessons and is currently doing “cross country flights,” otherwise known as flights over 50 miles, which worked out perfectly for his volunteer mission.
While many would assume the hardest part is the flying, Kim said it’s actually gathering the supplies as the country has seen a massive shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment) due to the outbreak.