Michael DeJong and his sister, Elizabeth, received an unexpected gift in their fight against COVID-19.
The duo, who started making 3D face shields in the basement of their Lake Ponderosa home last month, were the benefactors of a $500 donation from the Montezuma American Legion Post 169.
Ron Hensel, commander of the legion, and Uwe Meyer, legion finance officer, were on hand to make the presentation to Michael and Elizabeth at the legion hall on Monday, March 30.
“This means the world to me,” said Michael. “It’s beyond my wildest dreams to receive this type of support from the Montezuma American Legion.”
Michael, 17, a junior at Montezuma High School, and classmate, Brian Diaz, had been selected to attend Hawkeye Boys’ State in June. After it was cancelled, Hensel, Meyer and Legion members opted to give the boys’ state enrollment funds to DeJong to further his efforts to produce face shields in the COVID-19 fight.
Michael came up the face shield idea after seeing a similar project online and deciding that he could duplicate the process using his 3D printer. He recruited his sister, Elizabeth, 13, a seventh grader at Montezuma, and her Cricut (a home controlled cutting machine for crafts) to make the project possible.
After hearing of what the legion had done, Daryl Eichenberger, legion member and owner of Montezuma’s Hometown Hardware, donated an additional $250 to support the DeJong’s efforts.
Michael and Elizabeth were recently featured on KCCI and were also interview via livestreaming with Iowa political candidate, Eddie Mauro.
Michael said he is using the funds to purchase a new 3D printer to increase production to meet the needs and requests for face shields across Iowa. He is currently using his own 3D printer and one borrowed from Montezuma Schools.
As of Friday, April 10, the duo has donated a total of 150 face shields to those experiencing shortages. These face shields were donated to the Montezuma Fire & Rescue, Montezuma Nursing Home, Holland Coble Funeral Home, Montezuma Medical Clinic, Brooklyn Community Estates, UnityPoint Health - Grinnell Regional Medical Center, University of Iowa Pediatric Oncology Department, Oskaloosa Crystal Heights Care Center, Iowa Clinic Endoscopy, New Sharon Fire & Rescue, University of Iowa Radiology Department, Denver Sunset Home and a few out of state locations.
“Michael has been working his 3D printers 24/7 and even gets up in the middle of the night to maximize production” said Marinda DeJong, Michael and Elizabeth’s mother.
Michael's grandparents, Pat and Rachel Montag, also members of the Montezuma Legion and Auxiliary, have being doing their part in the fight against COVID-19. They have been making face masks and donating them to local emergency personal. Rachel does the sewing and Pat cuts the fabric and elastic.
If people would like to make a donation, Michael has established an email where visitors can purchase supplies directly. Send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Michael will send you a list of needed materials, with links on how to order the products and have them sent directly to him.