Queens Rep. Ocasio-Cortez meets $1 million goal for COVID-19 relief, sets new fundraising initiative

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Photo by Todd Maisel

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reached her self-set goal of raising $1 million in direct funds to support COVID-19 relief efforts, particularly for excluded workers, with an impromptu Instagram live last week.

“The federal government has excluded many essential workers from our communities in NY-14 from federal assistance,” she said. “Immigrants make-up 50 percent of our district, some of which are undocumented workers. They are frontline workers who despite the fact that they pay taxes have been left out of the stimulus payments and from unemployment expansion.”

The Queens and Bronx representative raised $60,000 in 30 minutes for undocumented essential workers during an Instagram Live on the night of July 27. Those funds went to the New York State Youth Leadership Council’s Relief Fund.

Ocasio-Cortez has raised a total of $1,021,857 in direct relief for nearly 40 grassroots organizations and community groups that are directly assisting the her constituents with COVID-19 relief, including Queens-based organizations like La Jornada, Hungry Monk, Elmcor, the Lorena Borjas Fund, and Adhikaar, among others.

The relief has funded personal protective equipment, food pantries, bail funds and financial support for undocumented families, service workers, the food insecure, and Amazon warehouse workers.

“Every single one of us, in one way or another, has been impacted by COVID-19. We’re trying to step up where the federal government is not acting,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “I’m honored to say we’ve exceeded our goal of fundraising $1 million dollars thanks to everyday people, who pitched in a $17 average donation, to provide direct relief for community groups and advocacy organizations serving NY-14 constituents on the frontline.”

Now that Ocasio-Cortez met her goal, she’s launched a partnership with the Street Vendor Project (SVP) to commit $3,000 each week toward fresh fruits and vegetables for families in her district.

Carina Kaufman-Gutierrez, SVP’s deputy director, said the congresswoman has been a critical supporter of street vendors throughout the pandemic, “first by fundraising for our Emergency Relief, and now by hiring street vendors to supply produce for weekly food distribution.”

“This program has significant local economic impact, as it supports vendors who themselves are part of the communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and the economic aftermaths who are receiving food distribution — in many cases it is their own neighbors and family members receiving the the groceries,” she said. “Street vendors who have been supporting their communities as essential workers throughout the last four months of the pandemic have been almost entirely excluded from relief afforded to small businesses, and we are grateful for the Congresswoman’s support to stabilize their businesses.”

The congresswoman’s team said they will continue fundraising for organizations providing needed assistance for her constituents.

The congresswoman announced she officially scored the victory in the Democratic primary, after already having a major lead on Election Night with more than 70 percent of the vote. But more than a month after the election, the absentee ballot count for NY 14’s Congressional District was finalized on Aug. 6, with her coming out with almost 75 percent of the votes.