We’re excited to share some news about an ongoing collaboration between a cartoonist, a printing company, a ramen shop, and us at DonatePPE.org. This motley crew is trying new approaches to inform the greater public about the persistent struggles of healthcare workers wrestling the COVID pandemic. The concerted efforts of unlikely partners in supporting these frontline warriors culminates their unique skills and services in the form of PPE Pals Postcards, included when you order Menya Hanabi.
Since May 2020, Guy Gilchrist has been providing quirky illustrations for kids stuck at home out of school, shedding some light on the scary side of the COVID pandemic. This project spun off The PPE Pals, a project offering coloring pages with fun original characters and animals directed towards younger audiences, with encouraging heartfelt messages from Guy Gilchrist and COVID-response related content: good handwashing practices, social distancing, mask donning as a protective measure for oneself and others, and appreciation for frontline healthcare workers and first responders. Guy’s also currently working on launching a coloring book compiling these and other new sketches in the near future.
DonatePPE.org co-founder Karen Tsai and Guy sought to get his art out in the world post-haste—with the country eager to get back to work, to school, to the outside, the fear was that people would forget how we curbed the spread of the virus by caring for one another. So they sought out collaborators, people who were acutely affected by the pandemic, aware of the unique struggle healthcare workers face due to PPE shortages and occupational threat to health, people who from their respective industries could reach others who might not otherwise learn of these issues.
LegitPrint is an online printing company that offers services to help companies and businesses elevate their brands. Justin Kwok, a managing partner of LegitPrint, itched for an opportunity to directly contribute to the efforts of DonatePPE.org but wanted to do more than delegate monetary donations—he wanted to use his company’s strong-suit, their prints, to provide color in bleak times, and strike a COVID-conscious dialogue about how the general public can support the healthcare frontline by staying informed and staying at home.
With Karen, they worked on an idea for postcard coloring pages, something unobtrusive yet meaningful on both sides of the card. Soon, LegitPrint delivered: durable cards carrying a message from DonatePPE.org on one side, and Guy’s fun art depicting the animal kingdom donning protective face coverings on the other. With the prints made, sharing was the next task.
Menya Hanabi, a Japanese Mazesoba (soupless ramen) chain has since opening to an explosive following in Arcadia in 2019 never compromised on the experience they offer; however, with the mass closures across the entire restaurant industry due to the onset of the US COVID pandemic in March, the new restaurant and its young team of ambitious cooks headed by owner and Arcadia native Jeff decided it best to draw their blinds and delay reopening until they could promise their food unaltered, as close to the quality and consistency they committed to when they first open their doors.
More recently, they have made changes to their production, offering hearty portions of Mazesoba worthy of the Menya Hanabi name through contactless pickup orders and delivery services like DoorDash, to much acclaim from their devoted and hungry fans. Karen reached out to longtime friend Jeff with the idea: include in their orders a message, a message of goodwill and awareness, a reminder that the fight against COVID is far from over, and an original coloring page to bring some enrichment to safer-at-home measures.
Jeff quickly agreed, the artwork completely aligned with their own mission: people of all ages sheltering at home could use a little pickmeup, why not use delicious food as a medium for spreading awareness and joy at the same time. To date, every takeaway order of Menya Hanabi includes one of these fun coloring postcards and information about DonatePPE.org and Guy’s Doodles.
We share this story of collaboration, about bowls of noodles and postcards and funny animals in masks in hopes of inspiring others to look outside of their familiar realms, and to be open to new ideas. Out there in the world, still shaking off the dust from the Coronavirus surge, are so many seemingly unrelated people, from struggling yet stalwart independent businesses like Jeff at Menya Hanabi, generous donors aware of the ever changing climate and seeking to extend their services in any way they can like Justin at LegitPrint, and people like Guy who just wants to make you smile.
Yet they all share the desire to contribute to a common cause: spreading awareness of COVID and the ongoing fight against it, and combating complacency against it. DonatePPE.org is working in ways outside of personal protective equipment to bridge different people with different strengths to make some good. Support our projects that help fund PPE purchases and shipments to healthcare workers in need by supporting the work of our friends in this story.
Place an order for Menya Hanabi Mazesoba, and try some of their other dishes here.
See the high quality prints and services offered by LegitPrint, and consider sponsoring a run of PPE Pals postcards for your own business here.
Follow along Guy Gilchrist’s interactive art project, filled with free downloadable coloring pages and sketches, here.
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