Helping Our Communities Fight COVID-19 & Stay Safe
“How can we help?” is a question many are asking as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, and we asked it of ourselves even as we shifted most of our employees from our Monroe Township, New Jersey, offices to working from home. How could we keep our people and their families safe while still using our resources to somehow help those who are out on the front lines?
“The idea to produce face shields to donate to first responders and others who need them came up during one of our staff meetings, now conducted as online video meetings because of the virus,” says George Kirby, OPT president and CEO. “Chris Bukosky, our Senior Director of Operations, quickly determined that if we were able to get our hands on the right equipment and materials, we’d be able to produce a significant quantity of face shields in a relatively short time period, while still keeping the production team focused on our ongoing projects.”
Members of the OPT leadership team began reaching out to contacts in their local communities to see what the need was for donations of face shields, and the answers came immediately and emphatically. A few more calls and emails connected OPT with generous organizations and individuals who in short order have been able to lend 3D printers and donate the materials needed to begin production.
Not long after, Chris and his team had the first shields printed and assembled and a production line was set up in an area of the OPT production facility. Feedback from some of the organizations receiving the shields uncovered a need for a different kind of shield, so in addition to a one-size-fits-all face shield with an adjustable headband, we began producing an innovative shield that clips on the bill of a baseball cap.
Once the various pieces are produced, OPT employees are picking up kits to assemble at home and prep for distribution. “We’ve set a goal of producing 20,000 units for distribution and it’s a real team effort,” says Kirby. “I’m incredibly proud of how our people are pitching in to help on top of everything else on their plates.”
“We can’t stress enough how we’re not able to do this on our own,” Kirby adds. “We’re a very small company with limited resources. We’re lucky enough to be able to remain fully staffed and hard at work during this crisis, but without the generous equipment and materials donations, we’d be unable to make these donations. It’s a testament to the kindness of our New Jersey communities and to the desire of so many people who just want to do something to help.”
Donations of equipment and materials have come from Hamburg School and Hamburg Education Association (Sussex County NJ), Doane Academy (Burlington NJ), Alpha Public Schools (Warren County NJ), and the Somerset Hills School District (Somerset County NJ), as well as Maribeth Regan and Andy Wander.