Obviously Programming Director Steve Hinz and all of his teammates on the FIRST #7198 Fearsome Gears Robotics Team of Twin Lakes High School share a passion for robotics, but they also have something else in common - the desire to make the world a better place.
“I would say that our team is built on the love of robotics and engineering along with the overall idea that through that we can help make the world a better place,” said Hinz.
Since the pandemic started, the team has faithfully met via online meetings to keep in touch with one another. During one of these meetings, Hinz suggested that
the group use their resources to help make face shields and ear protectors for frontline workers in the community due to the statewide shortage.
“I suggested using our 3-D printer to help make face shields and ear guards because it was the natural thing to do when you are hearing about your community in need,” explained Hinz. “I’ve always felt that giving back to the community is an important first step in making the world a better place.”
Holding tight to their team values, it came to no surprise that the group reached a unanimous decision to take on the project. Using their 3-D printer, the group started making face shields and ear guards right away with Hinz taking the lead in creating most of the PPE.
However, the group unfortunately reached a stand-still on production when they began to run out of materials and time. Having only one printer making all the PPE and with limited stock of materials, the group knew that they would have to find some kind of outside financial assistance to help fund their service project.
Thankfully, community based charitable organizations such as the White County United Way exist to help with these kinds of needs, especially during times of hardship. The Community Relief Fund allows money to be distributed to various non-profit organizations in White, Pulaski, and Jasper counties that need additional financial assistance for programming during the pandemic.
Thanks to the assistance provided by the Community Relief Fund, the group was able to purchase a second 3-D printer and more necessary materials to continue making the PPE for the community. Especially since the current demand for PPE is increasing, the group has continued to greatly benefit from these funds. One of the many places that the FIRST #7198 Fearsome Gears Robotics Team was able to assist, thanks to funding of the second 3-D printer, was the Monticello Animal Hospital.
Courtney Littleton is an employee of the Monticello Animal Hospital, and she was relieved when the Fearsome Gears called and asked if the hospital could use more protective equipment.
“During a typical day our schedule is really busy, and we don’t have time to think about what we need [in regards to PPE]. So it was a big relief for all of us to know that we had some protective equipment coming from the robotics team. It was one less thing we had to worry about, which was really nice,” Littleton said.
The Fearsome Gears did not hesitate to deliver the face shields and ear guards in person.
“The Twin Lakes robotics team is really amazing. These kids really go above and beyond to help the community however they can,” Littleton stated.
The face shields and ear guards helped the Monticello Animal Hospital employees feel comfortable interacting with both animals and clients in a close proximity. Without the protective equipment, they wouldn’t have been able to provide their services safely.
The students of the FIRST #7198 Fearsome Gears Robotics Team is proud to support their local community and have expressed their gratitude to the White County United Way for providing resources to organizations and businesses in need.
“The support from the White County United Way has been amazing. They helped us do a project that we believed in and wanted to do, but didn’t have enough materials to completely finish,” Hinz explained.
The White County United Way is honored to assist organizations such as the FIRST #7198 Fearsome Gears Robotics Team who aim to help others in need whenever they can.
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Jordan Day has been with the United Way since May 2020, and is currently working as a Social Media Consultant for WCUW.