Tampa church mass produces protective face shields

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TAMPA–The church can use a crisis of any magnitude as an opportunity to help others, and to glorify God.

That’s exactly what Pastor Bruce Moore of Christ Fellowship Church in Tampa thought when he considered suggestions for how he and his fellow members could help their neighbors and community during these challenging times.

Moore’s wife was contacted by a resourceful member of the congregation about an idea that she had to help others. Businesswoman Lorri Brown explained that by recruiting the help of others interested in lending a hand, they could “gather together as many 3D printers as possible to produce much needed face masks,” to share with members of the local medical community. The 3D printing is a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file using molten plastic.

Christ Fellowship, Face Shields, Coronavirus ResponseThe need for, and scarce supply of, these face masks and other forms of PPE (personal protective equipment) has been widely publicized since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

Ready for the challenge, the team sent out requests for assistance in the project. A Facebook post asked if anyone with access to a 3D printer would lend it to the cause. Immediate responses from community members, from both inside and outside the church, offered to help in any way possible.

Then God made his involvement known.

Suddenly, Michael Guinn, who lives a couple miles from the church, messaged that he had 15 of the 3D printers sitting unused in his garage. Guinn, a biomedical engineer and acquisition program manager who contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense, had used these printers during previous assignments and was now in between projects. Moreover, the printers were not for home hobby use, but rather a high capacity industrial type.

Within 72 hours the printers were assembled at the church, which provided space and volunteers to handle the production.

As of April 22, Christ Fellowship had supplied more than 10,000 medical face masks to doctors, nurses and other clinicians, primarily in the Tampa Bay area. Among the recipient facilities were Tampa General Hospital, several BayCare hospitals, some COVID units in the Miami area, and even some hospitals treating the virus in New York.

“We are trying also to use this to help pastors with medical providers in their churches be a resource to distribute medical face shields to people in their congregation and to their colleagues,” said Moore. “So, every church can be the resource for serving their community.”

Christ Fellowship, Face Shields, Coronavirus ResponseThe 3D printers run 24/7, producing the plastic “halo” devices that, when coupled with a clear plastic shield, creates a medical grade protective face mask.

“When the Florida Baptist Convention heard about this, they were so kind and gracious,” Moore explained, “and said, ‘we know your electric bill is staggering, let us send you a little money to help with that.’ This gesture was so kind and showed us the family aspect of what our Convention is all about.”

The biggest expense, aside from electricity, is the plastic. A Go Fund Me account has been set up for contributions.

“This all transpired within one month,” said Moore. “It has been amazing to see the opportunity for Christ Fellowship to serve our neighbors and local hospitals. Also, to connect with other pastors who we can encourage and help.”

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