Seeing the effect COVID-19 has had on the community and the world, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) teacher Chrissy Blizzard-Wrobel talked with friends about ways to help and an idea came to mind.
“We were trying to figure out ways that we could help and someone had mentioned that there were 3-D printing programs that were already created,” the VMS teacher said. “One of my friend’s husbands has a 3-D printer and he had made a mask using a template from Rowan University, and that got me thinking.”
When school is in session, Blizzard-Wrobel uses two 3-D printers in her classroom for instruction, so students are able to design certain projects on their own during assignments.
The district has been in possession of the 3-D printers for approximately five years, Blizzard-Wrobel estimates; now, they would be put to use. After approval from the school district, she was able to retrieve the two 3-D printers And set them up in her basement. After Amazon wish list items — namely materials to make equipment — were purchased by the community within 24 hours of her requests, Blizzard-Wrobel is currently in the process of creating approximately 100 face shields to be donated to Virtua Voorhees Hospital.
It takes approximately two hours to make one shield. With designs for masks available online, the shields would have taken about eight hours to make and would still require a filter — also in high demand — to be placed within the mask.
“The shields are quicker to print and they’re also a little bit more useful than what I could’ve provided with the masks because you would still need some kind of a filter,” Blizzard-Wrobel noted.
After working out the initial kinks in the shield-making project, the teacher estimates she’s making between 15 to 20 throughout the day.
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Camden County, with 2,312 reported positives and nearly 100 total fatalities due to the virus as of April 22, Blizzard-Wrobel says the donation of face shields is a way to help.
“It’s the least that we can do, as we’re fortunate enough to be sitting at home and teaching from home while they’ (health care workers) are on the front lines, sometimes without the materials needed to keep themselves safe,” she noted.
“If this little piece of plastic can help them, then I’ll be happily making them for as long as I can.”
Sarah Fawcett-Lee, senior vice president and chief philanthropy officer for Virtua Health, says the health network is more than grateful for the outpouring of support it’s received.
“We are deeply grateful to the many businesses and community members who are generously supporting Virtua Health’s care teams during this crisis,” she said. “They are doing so in several ways, including providing delicious meals and healthy nourishment for our staff, donating medical supplies and protective equipment and making generous gifts to Virtua’s Coronavirus Emergency Fund.”
If the district is in need of additional materials and supplies to continue making face shields as the pandemic continues, be on the lookout for updates on the Voorhees Township Public Schools’ Facebook page. Meanwhile, those looking to assist the Virtua Voorhees Hospital location can visit www.GiveToVirtua.org.