While quarantined in his South Ozone Park home, 25-year-old Japneet Singh was figuring out different ways to give back to healthcare workers and other essential personnel on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I thought maybe I could donate supplies of personal protective equipment to hospitals, but after contacting a few vendors, they were out of stock,” Singh said.
It wasn’t until Singh saw his an Instagram post from a friend who works at Elmhurst Hospital and simply asked the question, “What is there we can do to help or at least show appreciation?”
“I then asked him, ‘What if we donated some pizza?’” Singh said. “Who says no to pizza, at least here in New York? Since I knew this would be out-of-pocket and it was the most affordable thing to do, he helped me organize through the nursing department to deliver the pizzas.”
Singh made his first delivery of 20 pizza pies to Elmhurst Hospital on March 31.
His initiative took off after posting on social media receiving wide support from friends, which then resulted in the creation of a GoFundMe account to raise money to purchase more pizzas at a discounted price from Papa John’s.
So far, Singh and his friends have made deliveries to Jamaica Hospital, Northwell Health Long Island Jewish Hospital and Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn.
“There were some hospitals getting more love than others, and when we went to Kings County, people were amazed saying, ‘We are always forgotten,’” Singh said. “After that, we thought about the grocery store workers, the folks working at Walmart, police precincts and FDNY stations.”
Singh also delivered small personal pizza pies to the homeless population at Jamaica Center.
A 2018 alum of CUNY Queens College, Singh is embodying the school’s motto: “We learn so that we may serve.”
After graduating from Queens College, where he served as student body president for two years, Singh became engaged in local politics becoming a member of Community Board 10 — which covers Howard Beach, Ozone Park, South Ozone Park, South Richmond Hill, Lindenwood and Rockwood Park.
He received a proclamation from Councilman Rory Lancman and the Queens Delegation for his contribution to the community.
“Most of us are first-generation college grads — mostly from immigrant families — and we want to make a difference in the community, and I think what we learn in CUNY and the humbling backgrounds we have gives us the mindset to do that,” Singh said.
He is also a member of the Sikh Coalition, a nonprofit organization working to protect Sikh civil liberties across the United States, while also highlighting the religion and positive work of Sikhs worldwide.
In June 2019, Singh founded the New York Sikh Council to create a platform for the youth. Its mission is to spread love, peace and unity, as well as raise awareness of Sikhs within the diverse communities of New York.
As faith communities join together to help each other during the coronavirus crisis, Singh said, hopefully they can continue the momentum after the pandemic is over.
“When it comes to bringing faiths together, New York City does a great job in doing that, and we have so many programs geared towards everyone — culture, race, gender, identity,” Japneet said. “In times of need people of all faiths are coming together and helping out their brothers and sisters next door, and that’s going to define what this pandemic’s history is going to be. It’s really going to depend on how unified we are once this is done.”