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Fairfax teen connects health care workers and first responders to personal protective gear

Photo credit:{ }Aashray Manchanda
Photo credit: Aashray Manchanda
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A Fairfax High School junior is spending his time during the stay-at-home orders 3D printing face shields for health care workers and first responders.

Aashray Manchanda's passion for 3D printing started in the robotics club and he figured this was the perfect time to put his skills to use.

"I've always loved, you know, just working with others and helping as much as I can, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity for me to do my part and really contribute to make a difference," Manchanda said.

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The teen said he and a friend out of New York noticed there were a lot of people making masks and posting about it on social media, asking where they could send them. That's when they created "Hack the Pandemic," a website that helps crowdsource personal protective equipment from individual makers to health care workers and first responders.

"It's a whole web of things," Manchanda said. "I'm participating myself as a maker, I'm doing my part, but I also hope to organize this on a larger scale for many people that have the things I have, like 3D printers, even sewing machines."

He said the idea is to create drop-off locations for people making masks. Then, have someone deliver the equipment where it's needed.

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"Rather than individuals sending out 10 face shields, we can have them collecting them at a drop-off center and that drop-off site can send out 150 at a time or 200 so that larger quantity would help make it a lot faster because you have more people collaborating on the same effort," Manchanda said.

The teen said the initiative has really taken off in New York. In total through Hack the Pandemic more than 1,600 masks have been made and distributed.

Manchanda has made and delivered roughly 250 face shields to hospitals and first-responders around Virginia, D.C. and Maryland and he hopes it continues to grow.

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Hack the Pandemic outlines how to make a face shield and what guidelines to follow.

If you would like to receive personal protective gear from Hack the Pandemic makers, all you have to do is sign up HERE.

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Manchanda said in addition to looking for people who are making masks, he's looking for volunteers to help deliver them. He also set up a GoFundMe page so he can continue to buy filament for 3D printing face shield frames, plastic film to complete the face shields and cloth to sew face masks.

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