Volunteers, HSC deliver more than 7,000 masks to Tarrant-area organizations
By Diane Smith
A project organized to help fight COVID-19 produced more than 7,000 protective masks that were delivered to Fort Worth’s most vulnerable communities.
“They saw there was a need and they filled a need,” said Fort Worth businessman Jim Rosenthal, who coordinated a plan in early April that linked Tex-Air Filters with The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth to make masks.
The mask-making effort is described as an example of how community spirit can emerge during trying times.
“This project has been an ongoing success,” said HSC Community Education Specialist Katy Heesch, who helped coordinate the donations. “From the outpouring of community volunteers in the beginning, to the number of masks they have been able to complete, and in turn the scope of folks we have been able to supply the masks to, it’s been a great project that I am lucky to have been a part of.”
Tex-Air Filters donated high-efficiency filtration materials for mask-making kits to the university. The donated materials are very effective at removing a whole range of different particle sizes, including those containing viruses, he said.
Each kit had materials for the production of about 200 masks.
Once volunteers finished making the masks, HSC Fort Worth distributed them to vulnerable populations, including Meals On Wheels of Tarrant County, Samaritan House and Presbyterian Night Shelter.
Heesch said the community displayed “a pay it forward” attitude.
By mid-May, 7,250 masks had been donated by HSC. About 525 awaited being donated as of May 19.
Samaritan House supports vulnerable individuals who are low-income, have a diagnosis of a mental, physical or medical disability and have been formerly homeless, said Tasha Reid, Community Development Manager with Tarrant County Samaritan Housing Inc.
Reid said a donation of more than 300 masks helped keep residents safe and healthy.
“We learned very quickly that the coronavirus crisis would challenge us in many unanticipated ways,” Reid said. “As a team, we evaluated our needs and found that one of our most urgent was the need for PPE. When we shared this with the community, longtime Samaritan House partner UNT Health Science Center immediately reached out and asked how they could help.”
Rosenthal praised the work of HSC employees who help execute the project, including Heesch; Noah Drew, HSC Director of Community Education, and Jeremy Lopez in Central Receiving.
“It’s all execution,” Rosenthal said. “It turned out to be everything I hoped it would be. Everybody I have had contact with has been exceptional.”
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