We Are All In This Together

How families and organizations have been supporting one another during Covid-19 pandemic

HOMEMADE: The Moreira family shows the simple household materials such as coffee filters, tape, a stapler and more that can be used to create face masks. Coming from Brazil, the Moreiras recognized the willingness for people to help in the United States compared to Brazil because of the difference in structured stimulus. “It has been a while now that we keep an eye open for opportunities to help,” (Moreira) said.

Highways cleared from traffic. Lines of people outside grocery stores waiting to buy the food they need. Gyms, movie theaters, concerts, and events all cancelled or postponed. Even the neighborhoods of Palo Alto are quiet, only filled with people taking walks to catch some fresh air. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the typical daily lives of United States citizens. The economy has seized up during the past few weeks of quarantine and as the unemployment numbers keep rising, so does the risk of contracting the coronavirus for front line workers. 

During the outbreak, families and organizations have been working together to create and donate different protective equipment for front line workers. In Palo Alto, families and organizations have been encouraging others to donate supplies, money, food and more to help create PPE for healthcare workers and to support food banks. 

Palo Alto High School juniors Thiago and Luana Marzan Moreira are members of one of the families creating and distributing homemade masks, which they were promoting on Nextdoor. The Moreira family recently came from Brazil and felt inspired to create face masks as part of their belief in helping the community. 

Their father, Carlos Moreira, expressed the problems of fake news and how they changed the way they felt about the pandemic by turning towards helping others. 

“We concluded that we could promote a change of mindset,” Carlos said. “Life is better and spirits fly higher if, instead of staying home fearing COVID-19 and focused on protecting ourselves, we spend our time thinking about and helping those who need more than us.”

When asked about how community members can help in similar ways to support the actions they have taken, Carlos Moreira recommended that any help goes a long way. 

“If you feel that you have the time and energy to help, Google [search] what you would like to do and go for it,” Carlos said. “Join us on producing masks yourself and distributing in strategic venues or in social media platforms like Nextdoor.”

“Life is better and spirits fly higher if, instead of staying home fearing COVID-19 and focused on protecting ourselves, we spend our time thinking about and helping those who need more than us.”

Kuriosity Robotics is a student-based STEM and robotics team located in Palo Alto and has been creating and donating face shields for front line workers. Some team members include Palo Alto and Gunn High School members including freshman Ethan Liang, sophomores Albert Cai, Khue Do, Sam Duong and Austin Xiang, senior Chi Tran, and more. 

Inspired by PRUSA, a big 3D printer company, Kuriosity also decided to create its own designs for reusable face shields manufactured with a comfortable and easy use. Kuriosity donates the face shields to hospitals such as Kaiser and other San Jose Hospitals, nursing homes and grocery stores. 

As students, balancing both online school and the tech projects is part of their daily lives can be difficult. 

“We have a system for splitting up all the tasks,” Duong said. “There is 3d printing the frame and cutting elastic bands. They all drop them off at my house and then we ship them out but 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. is when everyone makes their parts.”

In addition to assembling the parts, they disinfect all the different parts of the face shield, which takes around an hour to an hour and a half. 

The team members say they are grateful for the support of the community.

“What’s been really cool to see… sponsors giving us free filament,” Duong said. “It’s been cool to see the whole community come together.”

Liang, part of the Kuriosity programming team, also expressed his gratefulness for the community’s help.

“We have parents driving us around and it’s so amazing how fast our community is mobilizing the project,” Liang said. “It’s satisfying to see how our work is coming to real-life; we can take the skills of making robots into something to help people in real life.” 

Team members say they appreciate donations on their GoFundMe page and also in-kind donations.

“It’s important to have community-funded projects,” Liang said. “Filament, plastic and others are the goal like a company to back them with the materials go a long way.” 

Having more people participate in the donation process is also impactful and helpful, according to Duong.

“Giving manufacturing tools, or even driving, like delivering the product to hospitals and such,” Duong said.

“It’s been cool to see the whole community come together.”

Written by: Vienna Lee; Images Provided by Moreira family