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Queens activist gives back in a sweet way to life-saving first responders

FDNY EMS Station 45 in Woodside received three large tubs of ice cream from The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory on Easter. (Courtesy of The Chinatown Ice Cream Factory)

BY CARLOTTA MOHAMED

First responders at three FDNY EMS stations in Queens received a sweet treat on Easter in appreciation for their heroism and bravery working to protect and save lives during the coronavirus pandemic. 

FDNY EMS Station 45 in Woodside, FDNY EMS Station 46 in Elmhurst and FDNY EMS Station 47 in Far Rockaway each received three large tubs of ice cream with cups, spoons and other items. 

The initiative was spearheaded by Edwin Wong, president of the Forest Hills Asian Association, in partnership with The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory and the FDNY Phoenix Society, which represents FDNY and EMS Asian-American workers. 

Growing up in a Catholic household, Wong remembers attending Easter mass with his mother, Winnie Wong, and father, Thomas Wong — who both recently died of illness unrelated to the coronavirus. 

This year, Wong decided to turn his grief into giving to encourage charitable actions. 

Members of the FDNY Phoenix society (r.) pick up ice cream donated from the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. (Courtesy of The Chinatown Ice Cream Factory)

“Anyone who works on Easter Sunday deserves a treat. This was an opportunity for me to give back to our FDNY EMS first responders, and to support a Chinatown small business which has seen its business decline,” Wong said. “This also highlights Asian American first responders and their selflessness and heroism amid the increase in attacks and harassment against Asian Americans.”

Additionally, Wong is encouraging anyone to donate to the EMS FDNY Help Fund and to support equal pay for EMS workers, in memory of his father. 

“No one really mentions the EMS workers, only the firefighters,” Wong said. “These are the folks that are also on the front lines right now answering the phones and working to save lives.” 

According to Wong, FDNY EMS Station 45 and FDNY EMS Station 46 are the closest stations near his parents’ home in Maspeth, where they lived for 50 years and raised their three sons. 

The FDNY EMS workers have also cared for his parents when they fell ill. 

“They resuscitated my dad when he stopped breathing, and took great care when they transported him to the hospital,” Wong said. “They had also previously taken great care of my mom when she had to be transported to the hospital, after she had fainted and another time when she was complaining about chest pains and they came to check on her.”

Looking forward, Wong says he is planning to send ice cream treats to the three FDNY EMS stations every year on Easter. He will also continue to inspire others to make monetary donations. 

Christina Seid, owner of The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, said they were honored to have been able to partner with FDNY EMS and the Wong Family on the Easter collaboration. 

“Right now the world seems turned upside down and things are so uncertain,” Seid said. “Ice cream is one of the few things that remain the same — it brings happiness in the good times and in bad. The FDNY EMS are on the front lines, away from their families to help keep our families safe. Mr. and Mrs. Wong would be proud of their sons for carrying on their tradition of love and giving during this difficult time.”

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