Operation Face Shield Ann Arbor receives ‘exponential’ donations

Donated face shields pile up in Operation Face Shield Ann Arbor's pickle barrel. A bleach solution cleans the masks, which can be dropped at any time. (Kevin Leeser)

ANN ARBOR – When Kevin Leeser launched the Facebook group Operation Face Shield Ann Arbor just over a week ago, he had no idea how many residents would pitch in to print much-needed protective gear for health professionals and high-risk employees in the area.

The group now has 557 members and Leeser said more than 1,000 3D printed shields have already been delivered to front-line workers.

“The numbers are getting exponential,” said Leeser, an RN who lives in Ann Arbor. “Last night we had 450 dropped off and we delivered over 430.”

A health care worker accepts donations of face shields made by volunteers. (Operation Face Shield Ann Arbor)

Leeser has been collecting the face shields in a pickle barrel in his front yard in the Water Hill neighborhood, but decided to move collection to a new location since turnout has been so high.

“I think it’s starting to freak out my neighbors,” said Leeser, who said that late afternoon, early evening has been a peak time for drop offs by volunteers.

After learning that Ann Arbor Distilling Company has been making and distributing hand sanitizer, he reached out to the distillery about using its parking lot as a collection site.

The owner gave him the green light and he is hoping to move the pickle barrel as early as Wednesday evening to accommodate growing donations.

Leeser also said the initiative is no longer a local one. He has been receiving donated shields from volunteers in Plymouth, Canton, Brighton, Chelsea and Dexter.

Thanks to a network of volunteers, face shields have been delivered to Beaumont hospitals in Royal Oak, Wayne and Dearborn, St. Joe’s in Ann Arbor, St. Mary’s in Livonia, ProMedica in Adrian and Munson Medical Center in Traverse City.

Besides hospitals, Huron Valley Ambulance, Michigan’s Center For Forensic Psychiatry, homeless shelters and grocery stores have requested the homemade protective gear. Additionally, the city of Livonia recently requested face shields to distribute to its retirement homes.

Leeser said he expects the effort to slow down once protective face shields become mass-produced.

For more information or to join in the effort, visit the group’s Facebook page or website.

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About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.