While schools across the state have been closed or practicing remote learning amid the coronavirus pandemic, a group of Howard County students have joined together for a project that would likely impress many of their teachers.
The Clarksville Youth Care Group — comprised of 40 Howard County students — has made and donated more than 1,200 face shields to 25 hospitals in Maryland.
“We felt like we couldn’t just sit back and let doctors be in danger for us,” said Atholton High School freshman Arthur Wang. “We wanted to help the community. It feels great that our project was needed and it’s actually playing a big role in hospitals near here.”
The project, like others that have cropped up in the past two months since the coronavirus pandemic altered everyday life in the United States, started with a small goal.
The first phase, funded by the students’ parents, ended with nine hospitals receiving a total of 200 face shields created with everyday items like foam, plastic sheets and elastic bands and based on directions from Johns Hopkins. The second phase, which ended a few weeks ago, augmented the scope of the project with 1,000 donated face shields.
“We’re Chinese, and we have some relatives in China. My uncle is a doctor in China, so basically he opened our eyes to the circumstances we’re in right now,” Arthur said. “Even when China was dealing with it, they were short on protective equipment. We saw the shortage in protective equipment and decided that we needed to help them.”
The Clarksville Youth Care Group was founded by Arthur and his younger sister, Amanda, a seventh grader at Clarksville Middle School. The group now has more than 40 members from 13 different Howard County schools.
“It really just started off with me and Arthur and a couple of friends we reached out to,” Amanda said. “From there, we made a volunteer form and started spreading the word.”
“I know Arthur and Amanda, and my mother brought the project up to me,” said David Wen, a sixth grader at Clarksville Middle. “I wanted to help the community, so I decided to try to give back and help with the project.”
Following the first phase, the group grew in numbers and needed donations to increase the amount of face shields it could make and donate. Along with funding from parents, the group received donations from real estate agent Shun Lu, Ivy Mortgage Inc. and the We Care nonprofit.
The majority of the hospitals receiving the face shields are local, including Howard County General Hospital, Johns Hopkins Hospital, University of Maryland Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, St. Agnes Hospital and Anne Arundel Medical Center.
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The group has also donated about 200 face shields to two hospitals in New York: St. Francis Hospital and Strong Memorial Hospital.
Johns Hopkins Bayview, St. Agnes and several others have sent letters of appreciation to the Clarksville Youth Care Group for the face shields.
“Many thanks for your generous donation of the face shields for our doctors and nurses. Your very thoughtful donation will be put to great use in caring for our St. Agnes Hospital patients during this health care crisis,” wrote Richard Pomerantz, St. Agnes Hospital Department of Medicine chairman.
“The great community support from organizations like yours is of tremendous comfort to us in our daily roles caring for our patients who have contracted this disease. We are most grateful for your efforts and support. It is great to know we can count on our community when we need them most.”
“It felt pretty good that our product that we made was useful in helping people stay safe in hospitals,” Amanda said.
The group is now in its third phase, with a goal of donating 1,200 additional face shields. Doctors can request face shields at bit.ly/2SEdB2l, while those looking to help the Clarksville Youth Care Group can donate to its GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/f/face-shield-donations-for-doctors.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” David said. “In school, I’m learning about heroes and what people do to help others. So I think it’s cool to take action and help others, too.”