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Photo courtesy of APAG
Members of the American Pakastani Advocacy Group (APAG) deliver meals to first responders at an FDNY EMS Station.

A Queens-based South Asian organization is helping New Yorkers in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Since March 12, The American Pakistani Advocacy Group (APAG), located at 159-16 Union Tpke. in Fresh Meadows, has been delivering grocery items to senior citizens, disabled individuals, and those facing financial hardships due to the pandemic. 

To date, APAG has managed to deliver 1,500 grocery packages and helped over 10,000 people in need. 

“We are trying to make a sincere effort to help the people in need. The harsh reality of coronavirus has left many families in need of essential items,” said Ali Rashid, president of APAG. “The elderly are unable to leave their house due to risky conditions, and some people are not able to find supplies due to limited stock.”

Ali Rashid, president of APAG. (Photo courtesy of APAG)

APAG purchased, packed, disinfected and delivered the bags of groceries to each individual while observing social distancing, according to Rashid. After quickly realizing the pandemic’s effect was much larger than anticipated, APAG ramped up their efforts to better serve the community. 

The organization was able to secure large quantities of essential items such as rice, flour, oil, antibacterial soap and more. According to Rashid, South Asian families received a Ramadan package with essential items, while bags of general grocery items are distributed to other families in need. 

A room filled with packages of groceries for delivery (Photo courtesy of APAG)

Simultaneously, with the generosity of Kingsland Properties, APAG secured a packaging center, located at 197th Street and Hillside Avenue in Hollis, large enough to act as a distribution point for their deliveries while maintaining social distancing etiquette. 

APAG’s volunteers have been packaging boxes and coordinating daily deliveries to all five boroughs, as well as Long Island and upstate. Each package that is distributed has the capability of supporting a family of six for up to a month. 

Local elected officials such as State Assemblyman David Weprin and Councilman Donovan Richards have joined APAG to help deliver meals to families.

“The American Pakistani Advocacy Group (APAG) is doing great work during coronavirus pandemic,” Weprin said. “I’m glad to partner with them for their food distribution event.”

State Assemblyman David Weprin (second from l.) with members of APAG (Photo courtesy of APAG)

Meanwhile, Richards offered his gratitude to the group for their commitment to addressing food insecurity in Queens. 

“I’m proud to continue to see volunteer-led organizations stepping up when it counts for our communities,” Richards said on Twitter.

As a gesture of support and gratitude, APAG began providing free hot meals to essential workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“APAG was able to capitalize on its network of over 100 volunteers to establish a network of restaurants to facilitate this initiative,” Rashid said. “APAG salutes those who have been working day and night to help flatten the curve.  

Meals are currently being provided in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties with plans to further their reach to the remaining boroughs and other parts of Long Island. 

Additionally, APAG members have also delivered fresh cooked meals to first responders at FDNY EMS Stations across the city, as a thank you for keeping families safe. 

“APAG will stand with our heroes who are fighting for us,” Rashid said. “To date, APAG has provided 2,000-plus meals and encourages those who risk their lives daily to stop by and have a meal on them.”

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