16-year-old earning his flight hours, all while making a difference to rural hospitals

TJ Kim flew 4,300 pieces of PPE to Augusta Health on Thursday.
TJ Kim flew 4,300 pieces of PPE to Augusta Health on Thursday.(WHSV)
Published: Jul. 3, 2020 at 11:05 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — TJ Kim is just 16 years old, but he’s spent the last few months hoping to make a difference around Virginia and Maryland. Kim has made close to a dozen trips flying loads of personal protective equipment to rural hospitals in the two states. On Thursday, he donated 4,300 pieces of PPE to Augusta Health.

Kim said he's done close to a dozen flights as he's collected supplies over the last three months. He's working to get his private pilot's license, and these flights are helping him earn his hours, all while helping out hospitals.

"It's the best feeling in the world, that's why I keep on doing it," Kim said. "The love for flying and the love for helping out others makes doing every single one of these missions just really fun."

The donations Kim brought included gloves, medical head and shoe covers, surgical masks, respirator masks, isolation gowns and face shields. Augusta Health said these donations are very much appreciated at the hospital.

"Being a front line nurse, I really appreciate it, more than he'll probably ever know," Jessi, an ICU RN said. "It protects myself and my family and my co-workers."

Augusta Health CEO Mary Mannix said she found Kim and his donation efforts to be really inspiring, and added the COVID-19 pandemic has really seemed to bring out the good in people.

"It's moving, it's inspiring, and we're paying it forward. TJ's paying it forward, and now we're going to have all this PPE to keep people like Jessi safe as she takes care of COVID-19 patients."

Kim said he never expected this much attention from his donations, which included a trip to the White House, but Kim said that doesn't distract from his mission.

"The mission still hasn't changed," Kim said. "It's all about getting supplies to rural hospitals to help out."

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