SCHERERVILLE —Forest Ridge Academy has joined the growing list of volunteers trying to help during the coronavirus pandemic.
Thanks to the work of technology teacher Ruth Richardson and teaching assistant Kim Krachenfels, the Schererville-based independent school is producing face shields for local hospitals in dire need.
“At FRA, we help people — that’s just what we do,” Richardson said. Richardson has taken the school’s two 3D printers to her house and has worked round the clock to produce 20 shields a day.
The demand is extremely high and the duo is unable to keep up with the orders. Richardson uses the 3D printers to create the headband portion of the shield, while Krachenfels uses a Cricket machine for the shield transparencies.
“I turn on the machines at 7 a.m. and turn them off at midnight,” Richardson said. “I wish I could take all the credit, but I watched a YouTube video and just tinkered with it so we could help out in this time of need.”
The delivery driver in all of this is the school’s head of school, Cindy Arnold.
“We’ve had calls from New York, but we’re such a small production,” Arnold explained. “We started this for one reason and that’s to help peoples’ lives.”
Arnold has delivered the shields to area hospitals and heard from home health nurses as well as pleas for help from doctors who have children enrolled at the school.
Coincidentally, FRA alumni Kelsey Feldner, a nurse at Community Hospital, came to the parking lot to pick up one delivery being made by Arnold.
“It would be nice to spread our forces (with other schools) and make a difference,” Arnold said. “We need to protect our heroes.
“There’s been so much gratitude — one nurse even cried upon receiving them.”
Arnold’s only regret — besides having only two 3D printers and limited resources — is not having more supplies and manpower to help the cause.
“We can only produce so many a day,” Arnold said. “We’re trying to help as many hospitals as we can, but I’ve got probably 20 messages out there to get back to people.
“We’re just doing our best to help in some way. The FRA way.”