As the COVID-19 virus started to spread last month, the charity arm Robbinsville’s own BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir decided to act.
Worldwide coronavirus cases swelled to over 373,000 by late March, and medical professionals faced shortages of protective gear, said BAPS volunteer Darsh Patel, so BAPS charities collected 5,500 N95 facemasks and donated them to organizations across the state, including Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Browns Mills, Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Northwell Health, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton and New Brunswick, Capital Health Hospitals, Penn Medicine at Princeton Medical Center and Robbinsville Township.
“Health awareness, including preventative measures, is one of the key areas that BAPS Charities aims to support,” Patel said. “When it became known that healthcare providers were using industrial respirator masks as protective gear, BAPS Charities identified that it would be able to donate these much-needed masks.”
Other areas of focus are educational services, humanitarian relief, environmental protection and preservation and community empowerment.
BAPS Charities is an affiliate of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, a spiritual and volunteer-driven Hindu organization. The organization has an ongoing construction partnership with the BAPS Mandir in Robbinsville, where artisans and volunteers have been using N95 industrial respirator masks to protect themselves from dust and other particles during construction. Masks that they had on hand were collected and donated.
“The healthcare providers have expressed much gratitude for our support during a critical time,” Patel said.
BAPS Charities has also organized and implemented several online COVID-19 awareness campaigns, like offering presentations on preventative measures and steps to contain the spread of the virus.
“The presentations have been conducted in English and Gujarati,” Patel said. “Many of the elderly population in the BAPS community primarily use the Gujarati language, so we ensured that we made them aware through a format they understand.”
All BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha centers worldwide, including the Robbinsville BAPS Mandir, are currently closed in accordance with government recommendations. However, live webcasts in lieu of regular services are currently available. For more information, visit baps.org.