SAN DIMAS – When Grace Miller Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Matt Miller found out about the school closures brought on by the COVID-19 health crisis, he had only two hours to collect materials from his classroom. One item he chose was a 3-D printer he is now using to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders.
In less than two months, Miller has produced and donated nearly 10,000 of the plastic “ear savers” that complement medical masks. Miller has found grateful recipients both locally and as far away as Chicago and Maine.
“I was scrolling through Facebook and came across a call for help from the Scripps Ranch Civic Association, asking for supplies. I realized right away I was in a great position to help,” Miller said. “The requests have grown substantially, with many individuals and organizations contacting me. I am trying to fill every order.”
Due to the overwhelming response, Miller had to ramp up production, which meant acquiring more printers and purchasing more of the PLA filament required to make the equipment. Miller started a GoFundMe page, then was contacted by Bonita Unified Teachers Association (BUTA) President Nicole Grant.
“I knew that the District had several 3-D printers that we could loan to Matt and help him fill his orders,” Grant said. “Matt always does really creative and nice things for people. We’re so lucky to have teachers and administrators who put the students and community first.”
Grant contacted Bonita Unified Superintendent Carl J. Coles, who immediately authorized the District Ed Tech team to deliver the printers to Miller. Suddenly, Miller went from one printer to 10, exponentially increasing his PPE output.
“The printers are all over the house. They are going nearly 16 to 18 hours a day,” Miller said. “We are now able to distribute thousands of ear savers throughout the La Verne/San Dimas community. I’m proud to give back. It’s nice to hear from people for whom a simple piece of plastic makes all the difference in their lives. We all want to do our part.”
Miller prints 600 to 800 pieces a day, about one ear guard per minute, and has put in nearly 1,600 combined hours, producing nearly eight miles of materials. Among his recipients are Pomona Valley Hospital, Hillcrest Retirement Community, City of Hope, Rancho Cucamonga Fire Department, Sprouts supermarkets and the San Dimas post office.
Miller, who has taught fourth-grade at Grace Miller for 16 years, is not charging for his time, materials or shipping costs, but will gladly accept donations to his GoFundMe page, which has collected more than $2,000 since it was created in April.
“Matt Miller personifies the humanity that defines Bonita Unified School District,” Coles said. “It is evident in the way Bonita has responded to the COVID-19 health crisis, with so many volunteering their time to serve the community. I could not be prouder of the empathy and compassion I have seen over the last two months. Thank you to Matt for his great work and to all of our Bonita family. Your work is not going unnoticed.”
Bonita_ 3D_1_05_06_2020: In response to calls for help from first responders during the COVID-19 health crisis, Grace Miller Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Matt Miller has been manufacturing personal protective equipment, using 3-D printers supplied by Bonita Unified School District. Miller has produced nearly 10,000 plastic “ear savers” to be used with medical masks and surgical shields and distributed them both locally and across the country.