"It's been heart-wrenching hearing the stories," said Tam Nguyen, president of Advance Beauty College.
They are stories that Nguyen says reminds him of the struggles faced by his parents and other families when they escaped Vietnam during the fall of Saigon in 1975 to find a new life in the U.S.
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"That's the only time I've felt this much hurt. This much sorrow, this much pain," said Nguyen.
Nguyen is now working with nail salon owners and their suppliers to turn a negative into a positive for others.
"You have no business, you don't know how to make rent, you're out of money and you look at your stockpile and because you have something of value to the hospitals, you go and you give it," Nguyen said. "They're giving it."
The new focus: "nailing it" for health care workers through donations of masks and gloves.
"We're part of a team that has already distributed 30,000 around Southern California this past week," Nguyen said.
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"We're all just kind of collaborating to get the word out. We have lot of family members who are on the front lines as well as friends," said Christie Nguyen, owner of Studio 18 Nail Bar.
Donations can be dropped off at Advance Beauty College locations in Garden Grove or Laguna Hills, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
A huge donation is planned for Tuesday morning in Huntington Beach - 13,000 masks and thousands of pairs of gloves to go to health care workers.