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Clarksville: Teachers at Howard County private school print protective masks for front-line workers

Mary Phelps, left, and Zulma Whiteford created parts for face shields using 3D printers at St. Louis School.
Mary Phelps, left, and Zulma Whiteford created parts for face shields using 3D printers at St. Louis School. (Courtesy photo / HANDOUT)

As the Clarksville area adjusts to the coronavirus pandemic, many members of the community have sought out ways to help others. Two technology instructors from St. Louis School have been making personal protective equipment for hospitals. Mary Phelps and Zulma Whiteford have used 3D printers to produce parts for face shields that are worn by front-line medical workers.

The teachers have been partnering with Open Works, a community maker space based in Baltimore. According to the organization’s website, the technology-oriented group requested the help of volunteers who had access to 3D printers “to help manufacture open-source face shields for healthcare workers combating COVID-19.”

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In less than a week, the group’s first face shields were packaged and ready for distribution.

Students at St. Louis begin using 3D printing technology in third grade and continue to develop their skills through middle school. Phelps and Whiteford used their expertise with the equipment to produce parts for nearly 800 of the face shields with help from local residents.

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“After printing several hundred parts on six machines from our homes, we began to run low on the filament used in the 3D printers,” Whiteford said. “A plea went out to the local community for filament donations. The school community responded immediately with overwhelming support, resulting in more than 64 rolls of filament arriving in less than a week.”

The face shields have been distributed to Howard County General Hospital, St. Joseph Medical Center, Arbor Place assisted living facility, and Stillmeadow Community Fellowship, a food distribution site in Baltimore.

The two teachers have also printed over 450 “ear savers” for personnel who wear masks at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. The adjustable strips remove pressure from the ears caused by elastic bands and make masks more comfortable to wear.

Minutes 4 Moms, a local babysitting service, has been collecting and delivering school supplies to Howard County students. Although school supplies have been available at meal pick up sites, Delaney Fox, founder of Minutes 4 Moms, wondered if some families were still in need of supplies as students transitioned to distance learning.

Theorizing that some families may not have transportation to get to pickup sites or the availability to do so at scheduled times, the Reservoir High School graduate and current teacher in Montgomery County, set up an online sign-up sheet for home deliveries of supplies. Nearly 100 requests poured in within days. Deliveries have been made throughout the county.

The school supplies were collected through a partnership with the volunteer organization The Kindness Pantry. The groups worked together on a bag-filling challenge, where they requested index cards, composition notebooks, scissors, pencils, crayons and glue sticks. Donations are still being accepted and may be dropped off at Fulton Wine & Spirits in Maple Lawn.

Clarksville firefighters received food from Tasty Empanadas' owner Lourdes Karina Pinto.
Clarksville firefighters received food from Tasty Empanadas' owner Lourdes Karina Pinto. (Courtesy photo/Tasty Empanadas / HANDOUT)

Local eateries have been partnering with their customers to provide meals to front-line workers.

Iman Moussa, owner of Koshary by Misteka, donated bowls of Egyptian food to health care workers at Montgomery General Hospital. When her customers learned what she was doing, they helped to fund more meals for workers at the hospital and from the Giant grocery store in Clarksville.

Tasty Empanadas also partnered with customers to pay it forward. Owner Lourdes Karina Pinto personally delivered empanadas to Howard County General Hospital, the Clarksville Volunteer Fire Department and three other local fire stations.

Warmer weather has finally arrived and with it brings the opening of the Howard County farmers markets for the 2020 season. The market can be found at the Clarksville Commons on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through November. To help maintain social distancing, the market is operating as a drive-thru and vendors are accepting pre-orders.

As the region gradually reopens, the Friday Music series is tentatively scheduled to return to the outdoor plaza at Clarksville Commons starting in mid-June. For more information on dates and artists, go to clarksvillecommons.com.

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