Don't Touch Your Face
Danny Stock

GDS student and faculty innovators are hard at work fabricating and donating personal protective equipment (PPE). GDS leaders are also coordinating donations from independent and parochial schools in the DC area. We are following recent efforts by Elvin Peprah (in partnership with Amanda Long), Elizabeth McDermott, and Jonah Docter-Loeb ’20 and a team of collaborators.

Innovation and computer science teacher Elvin Peprah loaded two of the GDS 3D printers into his car before GDS closed in mid-March and immediately began researching ways to help. Middle School science teacher Amanda Long initially shared promising leads to an effort led by OpenWorks Baltimore and Nation of Makers, who pledged to supply LifeBridge Health and Johns Hopkins with 100 sterile face shields per day. Elvin joined other makers in the DMV who are meeting the increased need in the face of predicted shortages. “I used GDS printers to join the movement and delivered face shields to Baltimore yesterday to minimize the number of hands that the parts touched,” he said. “There are more organizations out there that I am trying to get our 3D printers to work with!” As a member of several #hackthepandemic 3D printer listservs, Elvin continues to be on the lookout for additional opportunities to help healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic. [PHOTO BELOW].

High School students have taken action fabricating face shields and masks. Coordinating with the DC Mutual Aid Network and Med Supply DC, they’ve been producing face shields and made their first delivery of 60 to United Methodist Church in Southeast DC. “We have about 25 printers running [from a collection of participating High School students], and we are on track to print about 250-400 over the course of the next week,” said Jonah Docter-Loeb ’20, co-founder of the GDS Hop Shop. “We are also working with Eaton DC [a DC hotel], which is in the process of providing us with a place to print and funding.” Most recently, student leaders from the Student Support Committee (SSC) sent out a request for participation to all High School students. The email included a form for students to indicate their material supply and/or capacity for production and delivery of 3D printed PPE. Jonah encourages community members reading this story to sign up to contribute in any way their can. See below for more suggested volunteer opportunities from the SSC and The Hop Shop.

Finally, Lower/Middle School nurse Elizabeth McDermott teamed up with Adriana Venbreda, one of the nurses at The Lab School of Washington, to coordinate donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) from private and parochial schools in DC. Elizabeth has already contacted 30 school nurses and offered to pick up donations of PPE to deliver to the Department of Health (DOH).

"We chose the Department of Health because, as school nurses, we work very closely with them throughout the year,” Elizabeth explained. The DOH is currently helping to secure and distribute PPE to the various testing sites around the city. “They will be able to get them to where they are needed most.” 

GDS is donating its supply of N95 masks (Elizabeth uses these when caring for children with suspected airborne infections) and earloop face masks (that she typically places on students suspected to have influenza, chickenpox, or other airborne diseases). GDS is also donating gloves—including a supply from Veronica Ampey at the High School—gowns, and face shields. [PHOTO BELOW].

Elizabeth has already confirmed with several schools for their donations of PPE. They’ve set a deadline of Friday, April 10 for other school nurses to confirm their donations, and Elizabeth anticipates hearing from several more DC schools by then.

While GDS donations may not turn the tide in surging demand for PPE in the face of this pandemic, every bit helps. Furthermore, the actions of these GDS leaders will inspire the combined efforts of others in the community. In the face of a seemingly insurmountable challenge, we must, as Wangari Maathai said, “be like the hummingbird and do the best we can.” 

UPDATE, April 1:
GDS has donated four gallon-sized containers of hand sanitizer to Home Care Partners, a nonprofit organization "dedicated to helping seniors in Washington, DC age in place and making their homes safer so they can remain independent at home." A GDS parent who works with the organization reached out with this specific need the organization was facing and the GDS maintenance team was able to assist. Home Care Partners will fill small bottles for distribution to the seniors sheltering in place.

Suggested volunteer opportunities from the SSC and The Hop Shop:
DC Mutual Aid Network
This is a fantastically organized organization which includes a variety of volunteer opportunities for grocery delivery, emotional support, mask sewing, and more. 

3D Printing Face Shields
If you have access to a 3D printer, please consider working with DC Mutual Aid Network to print face shields. If you don’t have a printer but still want to help out, we are looking for extra laminator sheets, elastic to act as a headband, and extra 3D Printing filament. You can also volunteer to help with transporting the printed products through this form.

Donate Blood!
Please consider donating blood. US hospitals are facing a severe shortage of blood due to social isolation practices and the cancelation of blood drives. NOW is the time to donate before hospitals get completely overrun with COVID-19 patients. Donating blood is very safe as they take a variety of precautions to ensure COVID-19 is not a risk. You can save up to 3 lives each time you donate blood. Please try to recheck each week whether there is a blood drive in your area. Things are constantly changing.

Volunteer with the Table Church DC
Definitely worth checking out their website. They also produce a daily email about how you can get involved. Click this link to see tonight’s!


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