Essential items like masks, hand sanitizer, and gloves are becoming increasingly difficult to come by. That’s why two Upstate Medical students have teamed up to make sure that everyone in the community has access to supplies.

Together, they’re handing out hundreds of care packages to help the homeless.

“When this began, we all felt sort of helpless,” said SUNY Upstate Medical Student Summer Carbone. “Because we’re limited in our clinical experience and our knowledge, there was really nothing we could do besides stay home and social distance. I wanted to do something and I wanted to use that extra time to do this.”

Carbone is a second year medical student who wants to be on the frontlines, because she can't take care of COVID-19 patients, she's taking care of another vulnerable population. Over the last few weeks, she's collected supplies to give to homeless shelters across Central New York, including Syracuse, Utica, and Rochester.

"Without being able to wash your hands, something we take for granted every day, it can make a huge difference to keep this contained,” said Carbone.

Summer initially had a goal of helping 200 vulnerable individuals. Now, with a help of a fellow student, that goal jumped to 1,000. Already, they’ve distributed around 400 care packages. In each bag are a pair of gloves, homemade hand sanitizer, a mask, and most importantly, information.

“I would say the ultimate goal would to see at least a decline in the need for these items. If we could accomplish that, then that would just be amazing,” said Carbone.

In addition to handing out essential items, they’ve raised nearly $2,000 The money will continue to fund their project and care for the homeless population.

"It breaks my heart. These people are our brothers and our sisters; they're part of our community. If we are banding together as a community to fight this, we can't just leave these people behind,” said Carbone.