Coles County residents tap into their creativity to help fight the coronavirus

Coles County residents tap into their creativity to help fight the coronavirus

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It hit home for Jack Lindley when his uncle was hospitalized and on a ventilator because of being infected with the disease the coronavirus causes.

The Mattoon teenager thought he could use his hobby 3D printer to perhaps keep what happened to his relative in Louisiana from happening to people closer to home.

"I just really wanted to help our local community," he said.

As a result, Jack has made and donated about 200 face shields to health care organizations and others to help them fight the virus outbreak. And that's about a third of the number of requests to be filled.

Along a similar line, Charleston resident Lou Conwell found out she wasn't alone when she thought it would help if she made face masks for health care workers and others to wear.

She's now part of a group of dozens of people who so far have made and donated about 3,500 masks.

"The number keeps growing," Conwell said.

Jack, 14, said he got a 3D printer because he "thought it was interesting and fun." After he decided to start making face shields, he found the necessary instructions and information online.

It took some "trial and error" and it was about two days before he produced a usable shield. Now, the time needed to make one has dropped from about 45 minutes to around 20 and the work can take place almost continuously.

He said he was "overwhelmed" with orders after his mom, Deanna Lindley, put a post on Facebook about the shields being available. There are about 600 orders to be filled, he said.

But help came from people who donated materials needed and from the Mattoon Mars Pet Care plant, which is donating another printer Jack said will allow him to increase his production.

Meanwhile, Conwell said she learned of others' interest in making face masks and contacted Mary Davis of Mattoon, who helped coordinate plans and set up a Facebook page for the group.

About 150 people overall have helped with the effort and there are about 50 currently active, some who have made about 700 masks each, she said. The effort grew from first providing the masks for health care workers to now making them available for patients and others, she added.

Cloth, elastic and some other materials for the masks are now in short supply, but the group will continue "as long as we've got a scrap of fabric," Conwell said.

She added that the effort has become therapeutic for the mask makers, giving them a task during times of isolation and a way to contribute to the effort to fight the virus.

Further illustrating the community response to the virus outbreak, more than two dozens businesses, churches and other organizations have donated equipment and related materials to Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, the hospital indicated.

The SBLHC announcement also listed several businesses and people who provided food for hospital workers during the outbreak.

"The SBL community is incredibly generous year-round, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been particularly generous," the hospital said in the announcement.

“The outpouring of community support has been truly immeasurable. It not only makes ability to protect patients and staff members easier with all the personal protective equipment that has been donated and sourced for us, but it also lifts our spirits during this pandemic.”

Orders for the face shields can still be made on the "Illinois COVID-19 Community Support" Facebook page or emailing Deanna Lindley at deannalap@me.com.

Requests for the face masks can be made on the DIY groups Facebook page. Conwell said the group would welcome donations of needed materials, as well.

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