16-Year-Old Pilot Flies Much-Needed Medical Supplies to Rural Hospitals Amid Pandemic
During the COVID-19 outbreak, there's a fair bit of grim news circulating worldwide. However, there are some glimmers of hope where humanity stands up and shows us just how wonderful some people are, even in these trying times.
One such person is 16-year-old TJ Kim who has turned his flying lessons into acts of goodwill by flying necessary medical supplies to rural hospitals in need. Each week he transports goods and supplies to small hospitals in Virginia.
Flying in much-needed supplies
Kim's first delivery was on March 27, to a 25-bed hospital in Luray. Once he arrived he was blown away by the medical team's words. "They kind of conveyed to me that they were really forgotten about. Everyone was wanting to send donations to big city hospitals," he said.
"Every hospital is hurting for supplies, but it’s the rural hospitals that really feel forgotten."
Kim only started taking flying lessons a year ago, but his love of flying combined with a strong sense to somehow help out during these tough times enabled him and his family to come up with a way he could assist.
Operation SOS, which stands for Supplies Over Skies, is what Kim's called his venture. His latest SOS flight saw him fly 3,000 gloves, 1,000 head covers, 500 shoe covers, 50 non-surgical masks, 20 pairs of protective eyewear, and 10 concentrated bottles of hand sanitizer to a hospital in Woodstock.
The hardest part of the operation is rounding up supplies, which Kim's father helps him with.
The aim of his operation is to transport these supplies to seven rural hospitals all deemed to be critical access hospitals.
Kim's flight instructor, Dave Powell, goes along with him each time and has been in awe of his student's big heart. "For TJ to be more concerned with the needs of others in his melancholy state just reiterated to me how amazing this young man is.," Powell said.
With worldwide school and sports closures, many teenagers are struggling to maintain their sense of purpose and focus. Kim's found his way of keeping up the hobby of flying that he loves as well as combining that with an act of service. A fantastic combination.