Gary Sadlemyer and KFAB's Morning News

Gary Sadlemyer and KFAB's Morning News

Lord knows what will happen with Gary and his crew on KFAB’s Morning News, but you can bet it’ll be on point and entertaining, and if you listen you’ll be ready for the day!


Nebraskans want to help. Here's how you can!

I've talked to and heard from so many people who want to do whatever they can to help our medical front liners first responders during the virus crisis, but aren't sure how. On today's KFAB's Morning News I had the opportunity to chat with Jen Rae Wang, the volunteer coordinator for a couple of great grassroots efforts getting cranked up right now. You can catch that interview on the Podcast link, but here's the pertinent info, including the Facebook links for both the Million Mask Challenge and the collection effort.



Local Volunteer Efforts to Protect Frontline Medical Providers and First Responders Aim to Save Lives

Private Citizens are Making Masks and Collecting Supplies

(OMAHA, NE) Today, local “ordinary citizens” are stepping-up and driving efforts to create and collect desperately needed items for those on the frontlines fighting the COVID-19 virus in Nebraska and Iowa. With the effort starting in the last few weeks, these supplies are now going to health care professionals and first responders who need them on the frontlines of this pandemic in Nebraska and Iowa through the volunteer organizations Million Mask Challenge Nebraska and the Flat State – Collecting Supplies to Save Lives effort.

Million Mask Challenge Nebraska, in response to the number of growing medical supplies shortage nationwide during the COVID-19 outbreak, brings together sewing hobbyists to sew protective face masks for medical professionals, EMTs, police, fire & rescue, nursing homes, hospice centers, and other entities in need of personal protective equipment. Million Mask Challenge Nebraska joins the nationwide rise of home hobbyists working to meet the needs of the medical community.

Local Realtor Meredith Klein is spearheading this effort with several partners, all of whom are volunteers. Klein said, “Marshaling the talents, generosity, and volunteerism of Nebraskans and Iowans, more than 1,200 makers have come together to meet a critical need in our region. National estimates show the current need around 100 million for the United States and our amazing volunteers are doing our part to protect our frontline providers. We hope it doesn’t come to needing these, but the demand is here, and we have an obligation to meet this as a society. Together, we can do this.”

Million Mask Challenge Nebraska, provides patterns and supports all makers, ranging from beginners making their first bandana to highly advanced makers creating more intricate fabric masks. The most common basic fabric and elastic masks are made of tightly woven cotton fabric, which can be washed, sanitized, and reused, or can be used over N95 masks, prolonging the use of items in short supply.

Klein added, “Fabric Bash in Omaha, and several other fabric stores have been a critical part of this effort, providing kits, donating supplies, collecting drop-offs, and more. We are still in need of sewers to make fabric masks and bandanas, as well as donations of fabric, 1/4-inch elastic, cash or in-kind donations to keep the supply chain functioning to meet the growing need.”

Encouraged by the collaboration, Million Masks Nebraska has donated nearly 6,000 masks in the last 10 days, meeting the needs of 63 different organizations across the state of Nebraska and fielded additional requests for over 2700 more from community members in various fields ranging from home health care to social workers.

Additionally, the Flat State – Collecting Supplies to Save Lives effort, the name a reference to #FlattenTheCurve, is calling on individuals and businesses to look to their own excess supplies and donate them to frontline medical workers. The effort, being led by local STEM advocate Alan Wang, and a small group of volunteers, is collecting desperately needed items that many private citizens and businesses (small or large) have on hand and can donate to help save the lives of our frontline medical workers, like his wife, a local physician.

Wang said, “We know the numbers are increasing and will continue to do so in a way that’s not sustainable with the current supply of PPE. That, along with the few supplies available in stores and online, was the impetus for the community call to action. People from all over leaned in to help from donating extra N95 masks, Clorox Wipes, Cavi Wipes, disinfectants and hand sanitizers (still the greatest need still in the hospitals). What’s been most amazing are the hand-written notes and messages of appreciation and thanks on the containers to the frontline care workers. This is the kind of effort that speaks to generations – past, present and future – about the impact we can have when we stand united in a common cause. This is what will get us through these times.”

In addition, the Flat State group is asking individuals and organizations with access to 3D printers to consider making face shields and masks in preparation for the growing demand in hospitals and care centers. This effort combined with the hand-sewn masks will be a good first line of defense when supplies run out.

As a triumph of community partnership, Metropolitan Community College’s (MCC) Fabrication Lab at Fort Campus has been making face shields individually by hand. They have supplied these masks to UNMC and Children’s Hospital. New masks are being made every day to protect the frontline care providers.

Alan Wang added, “For myself, like so many others, this is personal. We need to protect our loved ones and keep them healthy and alive in this war against the virus. If we can’t keep our loved ones alive and healthy, they can’t help save the lives of others. Please consider donating your supplies and making protective gear today. We are in this together and we are one team against the virus.”

Volunteer coordinator Jen Rae Wang added, “If you are looking for a way to help, please visit our Facebook pages; please call the closed businesses you frequent and ask for supplies; please share some of the extra disinfectants and hand sanitizer you may have at home; and please help make masks and face shields. Each of us can contribute. This is our generational ‘Rosie the Riveter’ moment, regardless of age or gender, and we will only get through this together.”

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