Aside from raising funds and donating them to health care centers in the county, other individuals in Chatham used their monies to make essential items for people combating the coronavirus pandemic.

One such individual is Jason Mariano, a technology and engineering teacher at Chatham High School since 2008, who is also an assistant coach for the Chatham Track and Field program. Since March 28th, Mariano launched a GoFundMe program, known as Face Shields for First Responders, which raised money to create 3D-printed face shields.

Mariano runs 3D printing classes for a summer camp in Florham Park, known as New Horizons Day Camp. Four years ago, he started buying his own 3D printers to develop his classes for kids to enjoy designing by playing with 3D printers and 3D printing pens. The class had become successful in the community, which comes in handy during the COVID-19 crisis.

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“The process is simple, I spent time going through community posts and requests in the 3D printing community and figured out the best thing I can do with what I have is face shields,” said Mariano.

“I found a great file from someone overseas that shared it for free online to the community. After that, I started doing test prints and making sure my printers were all up and running and balanced to begin printing roughly 10 every two hours. On a good day, I would make 45 shields a day as I do not let the printers run overnight usually. The face shield clear material is transparency film and that is the toughest material to come by these days. I believe I have enough to get me through the next couple of weeks.”

As of today, Mariano will be donating his 1,300th face shield. A batch of 30 shields will be going to the East Hanover Police Department. But there’s more work ahead as there are 400 more face shields that Mariano has to make to meet his current list of requests!

These face shields are delivered to various medical and care facilities, from fire, to EMT, to police departments, to nursing homes, and of course, to every major hospital in the area. In the beginning, there was a set goal of $500 on the GoFundMe webpage, all going to creating face shields. However, since its launch, Mariano has received over $6,000!

“It makes me feel like I have to keep going,” said Mariano.

“If there are donations coming in, then there should be face shields going out. The Chatham community has been a huge help. I received many thanks from the parents and community for what I started, and I feel this gave me a project to keep going throughout this crisis. I am having a hard time with the balance of life, teaching, and printing, but I cannot think of anything else I would rather be doing other than this, teaching, and being a dad during our time at home. I have the 3D printers, I have the requests, so I have the need to keep going!”

And Mariano intends to keep going, especially as the appreciation from various beneficiaries comes pouring into his house.

“I enjoy it and I need these first responders to realize I am not doing anything more significant than what they are doing,” said Mariano. “I cannot imagine going into a situation hourly every day with that level of risk. I received a thank you from one first responder that said thank you for the donation. If it had not been for the donation, she would not have had that extra layer of protection on her first confirmed COVID call. I think that is pretty amazing to realize what I donated to and at the right time.”

To learn more about Face Shields for First Responders, and on how to donate, visit the program’s GoFundMe webpage at https://www.gofundme.com/f/face-shields-for-first-responders.