Gossip Girl star Yin Chang has been using lockdown to change people's lives with her incredible initiative Heart of Dinner.
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The actress set up the charity to help deliver meals to the Asian elderly in the city after the community was hit hard in the pandemic.
The star – best known for playing Nelly Yuki in the hit TV series alongside Blake Lively – told her story to Humans of New York over the weekend, and it is both heartbreaking and inspiring.
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She said: "Our community was hit first. Asian restaurants were empty long before other restaurants.
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"Even on the subway I could sense that racism was on the rise. On television one night there was a story about an elderly man who was collecting aluminum cans—just to survive.
"He was robbed and taunted. His bags were broken. His cans were strewn all over the street. And he didn’t speak English, so he couldn’t even ask for help. It broke me.
Gossip Girl star Yin Chang told her inspiring story to Humans of New York
"Because in his face I could see the faces of all our grandparents. In our culture there is a tradition of: ‘Never speak out. Never ask for help.’
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"If our elders were suffering, would they even let us know? I decided to call a service organization focusing on Asian elderly, and I asked: ‘How many meals do you need?’ They replied: ‘As many as you can cook.’"
Yin and her partner Moonlynn Tsai – who is the co-owner of restaurant Kopitiam – got to work right away in preparing meals for those in need, finding their charity Heart of Dinner in the process.
Heart of Dinner is doing some incredible work
Heart of Dinner has now delivered over 80,000 meals to Asian elders and volunteers found on social media have been helping to personalise each meal container with messages written in traditional Chinese characters.
Yin explained: "I found the traditional Chinese characters for ‘We are thinking of you’ and ‘We love you,’ and I wrote them on every container. I thought it was important to use the word ‘we.’ I never signed our own names. Because I wanted it to feel like a whole bunch of people— an entire community who cared. And before long that’s exactly what it was."
Yin Chang has made a hugely positive impact during the pandemic
After putting a call out on Instagram as the meal quantity increased in size, people got creative with their packaging.
"We weren’t able to personally write notes on each one. So we put out a call on Instagram, and 100,000 hand-written notes poured in from all over the world. We told people to go wild. Add as much character as you’d like.
"There were so many styles, and so many colors. But every note had two things, written in big, bold letters: ‘We are thinking of you.’ And ‘We love you.’"
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