Rice’s Chinese Parents Association donates PPE to Houston health care workers

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, people across the world have banded together to form support networks and help those most exposed and vulnerable to the virus. In an inspiring show of transnational solidarity, members of the Rice University Chinese Parents Association have worked to raise money to support health care workers in Houston who are on the front lines of the fight against the pandemic.

More than half of every class of international students and scholars comes from China, making Chinese students a significant part of Rice’s community. Grateful to both Rice and Houston for educating and hosting their family members, the Chinese Parents Association decided to donate personal protective equipment (PPE) to Houston medical institutions as a token of their appreciation.

“I believe that there are hundreds of parents from China who share the same emotions that I do about Rice and desire to do something significant to present their gratitude not only to Rice but also to Houston, the place their daughters and sons lived for years,” said Vera Zeng, who was instrumental in raising the funds. Zeng’s daughter, Mingyue Bao, graduated from Rice in 2018 and is currently attending Boston College Law School.

“Under the COVID-19 pandemic circumstances that the whole world is suffering from, we parents in China thought that it was time to lend Houston a helping hand,” Zeng explained. “All the parents agreed unanimously to donate PPE to front-line medical workers who are confronting the most dangerous virus to protect people in Houston, including Rice students, staff and alumni.”

Working together, the group raised $33,000. These funds were used to purchase the PPE and ship it to Houston institutions that desperately need the equipment. The group’s collective effort resulted in the donation of 65,000 disposable masks and 250 face shields to Memorial Hermann hospital and the Harris Health System.

“We cannot thank you enough for the generosity you have extended to our health system and the patients we care for every day, especially now,” said Stephen N. Lee, assistant vice president of supply chain management at Memorial Hermann.

Zeng said having the opportunity to give back has been tremendously satisfying to her and the Chinese Parents Association. “Though the number of PPE is not huge, we are still proud of what we have done for Rice and for Houston,” she said. “Everyone is linked to together. We must do something good for the place where our children live and have lived.”


“Tiny Acts of Kindness,” a project from Rice’s Office of Public Affairs, features stories about Rice Owls responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in kind, creative and effective ways. Read the Rice Magazine series here.