Volunteers from the New Jersey Wing Civil Air Patrol are taking on missions across New Jersey in support of local communities, and local and state governments during the COVID-19 crisis.

Matthew Chirik, public information officer for the Civil Air Patrol — an all-volunteer auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force — said there are currently 1,600 Wing volunteers in New Jersey. Of those, 900 are cadets. He said about 120 volunteers are currently working COVID-19 missions, and he expects that number to jump to about 200 by this week.

He said the Central Food Bank of New Jersey, with locations in Hillside and Egg Harbor, was the first to reach out for assistance. Wing volunteers are packing meals — and repeatedly set new one-day records in the Hillside location's 45-year history for most meals packaged. On April 2, they packed 875 cartons. Then the next day, they surpassed that number by packaging 1,030 cartons. On April 14, 1,141 cartons. Overall, they've packaged about 81,000 meals, Chirik said.

Another mission is at the Burlington County Office of Emergency Management's COVID-19 testing site, where about 20 to 25 Wing volunteers work in the "cold zone," directing traffic and helping with other tasks.

New Jersey Wing volunteers support with traffic direction at a COVID-19 test site in support of the Office of Emergency Management, Burlington County. CAP Photo by Col. Joe Abegg

There are also members at the River Road Rescue Squad in Piscataway, helping assemble gowns made out of the Tyvek plastic wrap that goes around houses. They have templates to cut out and make fluid-impervious gowns for local emergency medical services personnel. Chirik said they've assembled over 500 gowns.

Volunteers are working to make cloth reusable masks from home. They expect to pump out about 1,800 masks by next week, he added.

New Jersey Wing Command Chief Alan Lu works with a member of the River Road Rescue Squad in Piscataway to assemble an ad hoc fluid impervious protective gown from Tyvek type material that will be used by EMS personnel. CAP Photo by Lt. Col. Amy Myzie

Wing members have also provided support through aerial photography flights for the New Jersey National Guard over COVID testing sites. Those help determine just how much traffic is actually going through.

Chirik said the missions list is growing Any local, county or state government can contact the wing volunteers and ask for assistance by emailing woc@njwg.cap.gov.

Anyone can volunteer for squadrons throughout the state, Chirik said. More information is at gocivilairpatrol.com.

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