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Coronavirus: GAVC, Coal City schools donate to healthcare workers

PPE given to Morris Hospital, Park Pointe

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The Health Occupations program at Grundy Area Vocational Center (GAVC), specifically program coordinator Jennifer Shell, sprang into action when the Illinois Department of Public Health sent out an email saying that there was a need for personal protective equipment (PPE).

According to GAVC director Lance Copes, Shell went to the school and retrieved items which were extra. Those included 163 isolation gowns, 50 shoe covers, 100 caps, 175 regular facemasks, 15 NP% respirators, 15 protective goggles and 65 boxes of protective gloves. These, in turn, were distributed to Park Pointe Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center in Morris and Morris Hospital.

"Park Pointe has been very good to us, allowing our students to have a hands-on experience," Copes said. "We wanted to get the PPE items to the people on the front line and it was our way to give back."

Shell, who is a nurse herself, knows the struggle the healthcare workers are facing ,and she wanted to bring a little light into a tough situation. So, she brought a familiar object into the equation.

"Our students wear blue scrubs," she said. "When we show up at Park Pointe, everyone says, 'Here come the bluebirds.' So, I divided the equipment up into packages, cut out a picture of a bluebird and attached a note that said, 'To the people who get these: Please wear these and stay safe! Thank you for all you do. We support you and we'll keep you in our prayers.' And I signed it GAVC Health Occupations."

Though the packages were donated, Shell isn't finished. She has been hand-sewing facemasks, and has a goal of sewing 100 per day. On Wednesday, she completed 160 masks and donated them as well.

"I have been cutting fabric and sewing quite a bit," she said. "And, as part of our e-learning, the students' assignments has been to cut out a bluebird, kind of like a Flat Stanley, and take pictures of them with the bluebird if they go somewhere or with whatever they are doing at home. The kids have also been chalking their sidewalks and taking photos. Another thing we did was get a list of residents' names from Park Pointe and had our students write a letter to someone there. They can't have visitors, so a letter will brighten their day.

"Our students have become a part of the residents' daily routine, and we wanted to keep that going as much as we can. I took the pictures our students took of the bluebirds and made into a video and they showed it at Park Pointe during their social hour."

Shell said that anyone interested in helping her with sewing the masks or delivery can email her at

Coal City Community School District No. 1 saw GAVC's action and decided to help as well.

The school district donated the following Personal Protective Equipment supplies to Morris Hospital to assist residents during this time of crisis: 6,400 protective gloves, 40 facemasks, 50 protective aprons, 75 coveralls, 100 protective goggles and numerous hand sanitizers and soap.

When Superintendent Dr. Kent Bugg sent a communication to staff members asking if they had equipment in their rooms/offices, the replies came immediately.

"I suggested to the principals at the schools in our district that they ask for donations of anything that might be in the nurse's offices or in teachers' rooms," Bugg said. "The responses came back in just a matter of hours. We figured that the taxpayers already paid for the equipment in the first place, so this is our chance to give back to those that are in the greatest need.

"We even sent stuff like hand sanitizer and soap, which many of the teachers had paid for out of their own pockets. Our maintenance staff went around and picked the donations up. Kortni Emerson, the wife of one our board members, Jeff, arranged to have it delivered to Morris Hospital. We definitely welcomed the chance to give back to the community in a time when we all need to come together."

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