Tysons, VA

A Tysons teenager decided to use his newly found free time to assist with COVID-19 relief efforts by creating his own campaign to help health care workers and local eateries.

Arul Nigam, who is 17, founded Heroes of COVID to arrange food deliveries to hospitals in pandemic hotspots around the country and support local eateries in the process by paying them for their services.

Thanks to donors, Nigam uses funds from a GoFundMe page to purchases meals from struggling eateries to give to hospital workers.

So far, Nigam said the project has raised around $9,000 and has helped people not only around the Tysons area but in nine different states as well.

Just last Wednesday, Heroes of COVID delivered a meal to Inova in Falls Church, according to its Facebook Page.

Each meal that is delivered to a medical worker also features a personal note, Nigam said.

Along with meal deliveries, the organization also features medical professionals who work in challenging conditions and gives them a platform to voice their experiences.

“We are creating a platform for health care workers to share their message and share what it’s like working on the front lines, he said. “A lot of health care workers want to use it as a platform to educate people on the types of precautions they should take during this time to protect themselves and everyone around them.”

Anyone who works in the medical field and wants to share their experience can message the Facebook page or drop a comment on one of its recent posts.

“We hope that showcasing their stories and broadcasting their messages will help spread awareness, build confidence, and foster safety, while encouraging us all to be more cautious and cognizant,” the Facebook page said.

People can also follow the Heroes of COVID’s Instagram account if they’d like to hear about the personal narratives from healthcare workers.

This experience helped Nigam to hone his networking, logistic and coordination skills, he said. But, this isn’t his first experience with campaigning.

He previously started an organization that works with companies to host community service events that allow staff members to bond with their co-workers while helping their community. A popular project, Nigam said, is gathering members of a company during a lunch break to assemble meals to give to homeless shelters.

As a junior in high school, he added that his peers are really interested in his work.

“A lot of them have shared information about it with friends and family, which has helped elevate us on social media,” he said. “That has been really helpful.”

As of last week, Heroes of COVID has managed to help feed workers at roughly 17 different hospitals around the country.

Photo courtesy Shirali Nigam

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