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Apr 8, 2020

Face Shields for Frontline Workers – a Generous Donation!

All non-essential establishments are closed and that includes businesses that sell stationery items. Although the Stationery House Retail Outlet on Slaughterhouse Road in Belize City is closed for Belize City and their workers sent on paid vacation, that hasn’t stopped proprietor Giovanni Alamilla to make use of some of his office supplies in stock. Alamilla and his family are assembling face shields by hand to donate to frontline workers. Today, we stopped in to find out more and share the story of this family’s effort to make a difference.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

With some supplies from the Stationery House retail outlet and the helping hands of his kids, Giovanni Alamilla spent the past couple days making face shields for frontline workers. There are no machines involved – just office supplies and a handful of other items assembled by hand. The design is simple yet effective – and this is how Alamilla and his family want to help out during these trying times. They are donating these face shields to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to help keep frontline workers safe.

 

Giovanni Alamilla, Manager, Stationery House (Retail Outlet)

“The way I look at it and explain to my kids is that we are at home comfortably and the police and doctors and nurses are out there taking care of us. So, this is the least we can do for themJust watching international news you hear about the problems of the PPEs that the nurses and doctors are having; you hearing about police officers dying because they are getting infected as well. I thought, well, we have materials here might as well try to make something that we can donate to them just in case there is a need.”

 

The face shields are designed to be easily sterilized and reused. It’s safe to clean with alcohol after every use and left to air dry. The shields are also durable enough to be reused. These shields, made with transparent plastic material, are suspended in front of the user’s face by an elastic headband to help stop bodily fluids and droplets from reaching the wearer’s eyes, nose or mouth.  It’s a secondary protection to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 when used with a primary protective gear such as a face mask.

 

Giovanni Alamilla

Giovanni Alamilla

“These shields are great but you should still wear them with a mask. They are more of a splash guard of someone were to sneeze in your face or cough in your direction, at least it would stop anything from going into your face but you still have the sides and the bottom that anything can go under, so it is best if use with a mask.   It is very visible. You can see I use sponge, foam board, elastic and I am using the binding cover where I did fifty with the laminating cover where I found that it is time consuming because you have to laminate the sheets. With this, it is very easy to put on and you have good vision all the way around. If you want you can flip it up a little if you want o adjust your mask or whatever you need to adjust, not that you should be touching anyway, and then you put it back down. So, it is not hard to deal with.”

 

Each one of these secondary protective gears costs roughly eight to ten dollars. But Alamilla isn’t selling them. He’s donating them – close to one hundred have already been given out to frontline workers such as cops and healthcare personnel and about three hundred more are ready to be distributed.

 

Giovanni Alamilla

“We can’t make for everyone, so it just what we are able to make and give out and I am trying to spread it out as much as we can.   I am able to donate everything. Everything is coming out of my store, so that is the only overhead I have and my kids are free labour.”

 

Alamilla has been tweaking the design to increase production of durable face shields with the right fit.  He and his children have assembled as many as one hundred and fifty face shields in one day. He has no plans to stop making these as demands have skyrocketed in a matter of days.

 

Giovanni Alamilla

“The final product, right now I am on prototype number four, initially just using foam board, foam glue stick, glue gun, fasteners, elastic and I just went step by step finding out the best way and fastest way to make it. I was able to get in touch with Charles Bounahra from Foam Factory and he agreed to donate some foam and this has speed up the process, so at first I was doing thirty to forty per day and yesterday me and my kids did one hundred and fifty. I don’t plan on stopping right now and just continue making as much as I can throughout the day and continue making. Every day I am receiving calls that people want for their families; or police want; doctors want or doctors want for nurses. I am not selling it but people are offering to pay because they do understand there is a value to it. I have had a number of people call me and ask how much the material cost and they will donate so much money for a hundred shields or seventy shields what people. So, that is the way we are off-setting our part of the donation by what people are donating as well.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


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