April 10, 2020

Shielding first responders: How we’re doing our part to help fight COVID-19

By Lindsay LaSala, corporate and foundation communications manager, ScottsMiracle-Gro

From healthcare workers to firefighters, first responders around the world are struggling to do their jobs safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic due to a shortage of protective equipment. For us at ScottsMiracle-Gro, stepping up during times of crisis is rooted in our values. Our manufacturing facility in Temecula, California, jumped in to do its part. On Thursday, we sat down with Claudia Contreras, our Temecula plant manager who, in just two weeks, helped coordinate a donation of 9,000 face shields to areas in need. Claudia and her team were critical in bringing this donation to fruition.

Where are these face masks going and who will they be sent to?

Contreras: On Thursday morning, we shipped 3,000 face shields by plane to the Nassau County Police Department Foundation in Long Island, New York. We’re donating an additional 3,000 to the State of New York. A truck also picked up 3,000 more shields and distributed them locally here in Southern California. Those will go to local hospitals, nursing homes and nearby fire and police departments that are dealing with a shortage of protective equipment.

How did this opportunity to help come about?

Contreras: Two weeks ago, the City of Temecula reached out to us to see if there was anything we could do to help. Our facility was already producing face shields for our own associates, so we thought, “Why not turn this into something bigger?” Within a few days, we went from producing products like lawn spreaders to producing these face masks. At first, our plan was to distribute the shields to first responders locally, but as word spread about what we were doing within the company, we were able to get in touch with officials in other states with a need for supplies. That’s how we ended up in New York. And we’re planning to expand. Thursday was only our first shipment.

I noticed that these masks aren’t like the typical surgical face masks you’d see at a hospital. Can you explain how they work?   

Contreras: Correct. They’re more like shields – similar to what you’d see used by police or military. They’re very durable and reusable. Not only do they cover your mouth and nose, but they also protect your eyes, unlike most other masks.

What’s next? Are you planning to donate more face shields? 

Contreras: Yes, we’re currently working on another shipment for May. The shield in that shipment will be even more impact-resistant, which provides protection not only from droplets and splash, but also from dust, wind, and debris. These will be a good fit for the fire department, police and factory workers. We’re already in the process of developing a new mold that is double the thickness. It will also have a snap feature that will make it more seamless to use. With the new mold, we will be able to produce 20,000 shields per day. Check back with us in a few weeks for an update on progress and where the next shipment will go.