Angelica Whitney, 15, of Epsom, New Hampshire, a junior at Bishop Brady High School, has made more than 6,750 pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, face shields and door openers, for healthcare facilities, first responders, nursing homes, veterinary clinics, businesses and schools since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a member of her high school’s FIRST Tech Challenge robotics team, Angelica was inspired to volunteer by an email from FIRST Tech challenging robotic teams across the country to donate one million PPE items to make their communities safer. “I had heard about the lack of PPE in states including New Hampshire, and how facilities were having COVID-19 outbreaks because of this,” she said.
She started by sewing cloth masks on her sewing machine -- a time-consuming job, she said, and one that she was eventually able to hand off to a family friend. To buy supplies, Angelica applied for grants and appealed for donations. The robotics team stores its two 3D printers at Angelica’s house, so by running the printers constantly, she was able to produce large numbers of headbands for face shields, ear savers for elastic masks, and door openers. As she made her products, Angelica reached out to a range of facilities to see if they needed PPE. She then got her robotics team involved in delivering the items, which, she estimates, have helped protect more than 4,000 individuals at over 30 locations. Her project, she said, will continue until there no longer is a need for people to protect themselves from virus exposure.