East Brunswick preschooler insists on donating masks to police officers

Five-year-old Brendan Zhang asked his family to help out East Brunswick police officers by donating masks.PHOTO COURTESY OF THE EAST BRUNSWICK POLICE DEPARTMENT
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Five-year-old Brendan Zhang asked his family to help out East Brunswick police officers by donating masks.PHOTO COURTESY OF THE EAST BRUNSWICK POLICE DEPARTMENT

EAST BRUNSWICK–With protective gear needed now more than ever, a 5-year-old boy asked his family to help out East Brunswick police officers.

Brian Zhang, Brendan’s father, said that when COVID-19 impacted the community last month, his son, who attends Pre-K at Hammarskjold Middle School’s Early Learning Academy, asked him to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) for police officers. Brendan overheard his father talking about getting masks for their family and friends, and stated to his father that the township’s police officers need to be protected as well, according to a prepared statement from the police department.

Brendan offered to use his own money to purchase PPE because he didn’t know who would protect residents if police officers get sick from the virus, according to the statement.  

“I was surprised when he first brought it to my attention. Although I agree with his logic of our officers need to be better protected, the efforts are out of reach for him,” Zhang said. “I answered back with financing the mask question to him, and again to my surprise, he told me that he is willing to use his money. At that point, I was willing to support his idea because he was insisting on getting this done.” 

Having turned Brendan down on many occasions to buy various personal items, Zhang said for this cause he wanted his son to see the different reaction from him, and that he was willing to support his idea. He said he wanted to make a point that these types of actions will be encouraged.

On May 6, Brendan, along with his father, delivered 1,000 medical-grade surgical masks, 480 N95 masks and 50 coveralls for critical situations to the East Brunswick police station.

“Growing up, Brendan always had a mask on when we were outdoor playing during the winter. He always gets a cough in the wintertime and we try to use preventive measures as much as possible,” Zhang said. “So he is used to wearing a mask and he’s always had an understanding of how a mask can prevent respiratory illness.”

Zhang said he has been in the healthcare distribution business so he had contacts from suppliers. He said it only took about a week to finalize on suppliers and products.

“Once we agreed on the items’ quantity and price, I made the payment and the shipment was sent to us here in East Brunswick,” Zhang said. “Logistics was a nightmare because the shipment was sent out on March 18, but I didn’t receive them until April 27.”

The police department believes this was a truly generous offer from a child who was willing to use his own money and wanted to acknowledge him for his efforts, according to the statement.

Zhang said once they dropped off the PPE, Brendan told him he was very happy that the police officers are now protected, according to the statement.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.