GREENSBORO — What started as an effort by one woman grew into a network of people who are helping keep health-care workers safe during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
They are making and donating personal protective masks and face shields.
“We have a lot of agencies that are looking for protective gear as quickly as possible,” said Paige Cox.
Cox is co-founder and executive director of Reconsidered Goods, a non-profit that started out as a way of keeping everyday discarded items out of the landfill and re-purposing them. Items like CDs, computer diskettes, old records, even trophies were donated to be sold through the organization's retail store to creative-minded doers who turn them into functional or decorative objects.
Cox is among a handful of people who started a home sewing network for protective fabric masks. When she realized there was also a need for protective face shields, she thought about all of the items housed at Reconsidered Goods, which has been closed since Guilford County issued a stay-at-home order.
“It started out with me just grabbing some goods from Reconsidered Goods, things that we had around,” she said.
Everyday items like adhesive weather stripping, elastic straps, clear plastic sheets and staples became a personal protective see-through shield.
After posting photos of what she was doing on social media, others wanted to help and the effort took off.
“They’re pretty inexpensive, and we’re able to find a lot of the materials online,” Cox said.
Cox shifted from making the shields to assembling kits for others to take and make them. Each kit has enough materials to make about 50 shields. She stuffs each kit into a plastic bag with instruction on how to assemble and hangs them on a picket fence outside her home for people to pick up. There’s even an instructional video on the Reconsidered Goods Facebook page.
The network of mask and face shield makers calls itself the PPEople Brigade, PPE being an acronym for personal protective equipment. Its website, ppeoplebrigade.com, helps to inspire and inform other grassroots networks.
Cox said she can’t provide kits fast enough. As soon as she posts on the PPEople Brigade Facebook page that kits are available, they are snatched up.
“There’s usually a line waiting to pick them up. People are excited to help,” she said.
All of the materials for the shields are donated. Cox created an Amazon wish list and she gets new supplies every two or three days.
The completed shields are returned the same way, with makers hanging their bags on the fence. Cox collects the shields and contacts recipients to pick them up.
Cox said shields are cleaned before distribution.
“It’s a good system where they’re not getting passed through too many people," she said.
Cox said 1,000 shields were donated to Randolph Hospital on Monday and shields have been donated to Friends Home, Alamance Regional Hospital, High Point Regional Hospital and Hospice of Asheboro. Shields were also given to a healthcare facility in Hillsborough, and the network extends into the Triangle where a similar network has sprung up.
Cox said shields have even been shipped to New York City, and some may go to health-care workers in Michigan.
“So many people want to be involved. It’s really great,” Cox said. "It's just people doing what needs to be getting done."
Contact at 336-373-7145 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at Short_OrdersNR and on Facebook.
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