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‘Mask-Nearby’ developers launch campaign to help the elderly

‘Mask-Nearby’ developers launch campaign to help the elderly

Posted April. 09, 2020 07:42,   

Updated April. 09, 2020 07:55


“We have launched a campaign to help the elderly who are not used to using the smartphone and may struggle with buying masks.”

Korea University graduate Kim Jun-tae explained on Wednesday that a sense of responsibility was the reason why he and his colleagues have launched a mask donation campaign for the elderly. They were concerned whether the website they have built for a good will may make some people feel marginalized.

Kim who graduated from Korea University in February this year and his colleagues attending the same university – Choi Joo-won, Park Ji-hwan, and Lee In-woo – have made contributions to the South Korean society affected by COVID-19. As the members of the university programming group, they built a website called “Corona-Nearby” on February 1, which provides information about locations that COVID-19 patients have been to. The website has been visited by over three million people. The “Mask-Nearby” website launched on March 5 to show the availability of masks has received even more attention. About 100,000 people visit the website per day on average and the total number of visitors so far is over 15 million.

On the other hand, however, the four developers had carried a sense of guilt. “The elderly who are not as used to using the smartphone as the young may have trouble finding masks,” they thought. In fact, 90 percent of the people who visit the Mask-Nearby website are on their smartphones.

They decided to act on the sense of responsibility they had been carrying and planned a mask donation campaign to reduce such an information gap between the young and the old. The Mask-Nearby website posted the following campaign notice in the second week of March.

“The developers of Mask-Nearby have been carrying a sense of discomfort regarding the elderly’s disproportionate struggle with finding masks. With a sense of social responsibility, we’d like to launch fundraising for them.”

The reaction from the website users was more enthusiastic than expected with 130 users donating any amount between 5,000 to 300,000 won. A total of 3.8 million won was raised, including the donations from the developers. One thousand masks were bought with the money and delivered to the Seoul Elderly Welfare Center on Saturday. The online retailer “Yumine General Store” also donated 1,000 hand sanitizers to the center as well.

The Seoul Elderly Welfare Center will distribute the donated masks and hand sanitizers to the older people marginalized with regards to protection from COVID-19. “I’d like to thank the citizens who joined in the campaign,” said Kim Jun-tae. “I hope our donation campaign can help the alienated elderly in any way possible.”

Teuk-Gyo Koo kootg@donga.com