In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sophomore Heidi Wang and Junior Josie Huang joined a project called COVID-19 Relief Bay Area (CRBA) to donate thousands of handmade face shields to healthcare professionals across the Bay Area. Garnering widespread support from the MSJ community, Wang and Huang’s initiative has successfully reached 22 hospitals and senior homes as far as Tracy, San Francisco, and Mountain View.
Wang and Huang received around $4,000 in donations to purchase materials for face shields from the Citizens for Better Community, a nonprofit organization dedicated to support the Chinese-American community. Planning to make at least 2,000 units for their first order, they assembled a team of more than 40 students across the Bay Area. Each member individually worked to fulfill orders that Wang and Huang later shipped to various sites, including the local Washington Hospital Healthcare System and Tri-City Health Center. Having initially made about 2,300 face shields, CRBA later delivered an additional order for 1,000 units.
Wang poses with doctors from the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System as they receive a package of face shields.
According to Wang and Huang, they never expected CRBA to reach as far as it has. “Once quarantine started, we kind of realized how big this whole thing is — hospitals are being overloaded, and they don’t have enough [supplies],” Huang said. After watching YouTube tutorials, they tested multiple prototypes for face shields before finalizing a design for their product. Then, by reaching out to friends on social media to help with production, the team’s efforts gradually expanded. Huang ordered materials online for team members to work in their own homes, while Wang focused on reaching out to healthcare facilities to collect orders. Huang later created her own YouTube tutorial for anyone interested in replicating their design with materials readily available online.
Huang portions out foam strips to assemble into face shields.
Wang and Huang were inspired to start their project after reading articles documenting a lack of medical supplies. “We can’t donate medical supplies, but face [shields] were something that we could actually do,” Huang said. Following the success of their first two rounds of production, Wang and Huang are now considering opening orders to community members and designing more items, such as reusable, long-lasting cloth face masks. By expanding their product line and allowing more people to order, they hope to help not just healthcare facilities, but the community at large. “By starting with [ourselves] and doing small actions while caring for others, change for the better can happen … We can play a role in ending COVID-19,” Huang said.
Read on to learn more about another student-led initiative in the MSJ community:
“When I saw the grocery workers wearing bandanas and neck warmers as a face cover, I was heavy-hearted and told myself I should do something for them. Luckily, I found a small group of volunteers locally who make cloth masks for frontline workers. I decided to contact them, and this is how I became the coordinator of Project ‘Everyone Has A Mask.’” — Freshman Christine Yiu
“I have worked with Christine Yiu and her team on acquiring face masks for MSJ staff. It is so impressive [to see] how many students are helping to make a positive difference during this tough time. Christine’s team was able to make masks for around 50 staff members and their families. They were delivered last week, and the staff was very appreciative.” — Principal Jeff Evans