AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The Austin Chinese-American Network has been making face shields since the beginning of the pandemic.
“For the past three months, we’ve donated 3D-printed face shields, around 2000,” Helen Gu with ACAN explained that students within the group have been 3D-printing and hand-making these face shields. “The other team began to make handmade shields without 3D-printing which got more students involved and they are very ready to help.”
Rachel Chen, a student and member of ACAN, helps run the hand-made portion of the project.
“I buy all the supplies and then I have people sign up and then I distribute them to everyone’s houses. And then after they’re done making it, I go and pick them up, and then I checked them for quality and then we donate them,” Chen explained.
She even made a tutorial video for other students with her sister.
So far, Chen says the volunteer group has grown to about 70 volunteers, who have worked on these face shields for a total of about 1,200 hours.
“I know that this won’t completely prevent someone from like, contracting this virus, but I’m grateful to know that I helped in this community to maybe slightly prevent it,” Chen said.
The group was originally donating the shields to hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities, but when word came out school was going to be held at least partly in person, they decided to help out.
“I feel kind of, like nervous, like, knowing that there’s like a lot of kids going to the hallways,” Benjamin Li said. The soon-to-be eighth grade student is helping with the 3D-printed versions of the masks.
He said he’s hoping these shields can provide some extra comfort.
“Lately we’ve been adding like foam to the to the visor, so that’s more comfortable instead of just like plastic rubbing against your skin,” Li explained. “It’s a lot easier to breathe through because it’s just like a sheet of plastic in front of you.”
Noah Liu is also helping with the 3D-printing operation. He said he’s hoping the shields help ease the minds of faculty heading back to the classroom.
“A lot of my teachers, they’re kind of older, they’re like in their 60s, maybe. So they’re particularly vulnerable to the virus,” Liu said. “I think if they were provided with an extra layer of protection through these face shields, they might feel a little bit safer with teaching at the school.”
Gu explained ACAN has received funding for the project through other nonprofits, including AlltogetherATX, St. David’s Foundation COVID-19 Recovery Fund, and the COVID-19 Relief Fund by NAAO, GAACC and other AAPI organizations.