Students against COVID-19


While COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on communities around the world, Westminster students are using this time of chaos as an opportunity to serve others. Peaking in mid April, the worldwide pandemic caused a systematic shut down of major travel and social gatherings, leaving citizens stuck at home for indefinitely long quarantine periods. Overall, the virus has raised a series of concerning questions, especially for those at risk, such as eldery individuals and people with compromised immune systems. How will parents support their families if they are not compensated for forced quarantine? Who will fetch groceries if one is unable to leave the house? Prescriptions and medication? Packages? Based on these questions, Westminster students addressed the call to help out those in need.

Sophomore Reilly O’Neill realized some of these issues, and began to address them directly on a platform called “Next Door Chastain.”

“I started with helping my grandparents get groceries and things they needed, since they couldn’t leave the house,” said O’Neill. “Then I realized other people probably needed the same kind of assistance. On our neighborhood platform, Next Door Chastain, I posted an ad saying I was available for people who needed help, like picking up groceries and that kind of stuff.” 

O’Neill’s message garnered the attention of many in the community, and he immediately got to work through his platform. 

“The ad got tons of attention,” said O’Neill. “Next thing I know I was doing grocery runs to people, and going to the UPS store to ship letters and packages. I also picked up prescriptions. One of my neighbors had a bad lung condition, so I picked up his medication and helped him out. Overall it’s been nice to help out the community during this stressful time.”

O’Neill’s philanthropic initiative made the WSBTV’s Channel 2 Action News. As one of the first Westminster students to provide service during the coronavirus outbreak, he has also sparked others into action to help battle the pandemic. 

Another sophomore, Christopher Huang, has also been finding ways to support the community by fundraising for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Combat Coronavirus campaign. 

“For the last couple of weeks I’ve been raising money for the CDC’s campaign to stop the coronavirus,” said Huang. “I’ve mainly asked people I know for donations, like family and friends, but I’ve also reached out to others at school as well. By directly supporting the CDC, I believe that is the best way to take this virus head on.”

According to Huang, the CDC is essential toward supporting the currently pressured healthcare system. The stress placed on healthcare and hospital workers has been accentuated during the past few months. Still forced to remain active in their duties, these employees are directly at risk of contracting COVID-19. A lack of medical supplies, such as masks and beds, raises the likelihood of the illness spreading without proper sanitary measures. While the government has called for the production of millions of masks, most of these efforts have not yet reached the doctors and healthcare workers that need them. Thus, a Westminster student, seventh-grader Buckley Wiley, has helped to provide masks as the government’s production catches up to the needs of hospitals. 

While online, Wiley read about the coronavirus, recognizing the need for additional masks to keep healthcare workers safe. Later, his mother shared an article with him about producing masks through the use of at home 3D printers. Inspired, Wiley used his own 3D printer to generate masks for the different hospital centers around Atlanta. 

“First, I found a file online for the mask structures worn by different healthcare workers,” said Wiley. “I’ve been printing and assembling these structures, and donating them to cancer care centers, Piedmont Hospital, the COVID-19 unit, and multiple departments of medicine at Emory. In total, I’ve donated about 250 now.” 

Wiley’s service has required sacrifice on his end, and he aims to show other students how to create masks for the medical field.

“I have to buy the filament for the 3D printer to produce the masks myself,” said Wiley “I started in the middle of March, and once school let out I began to print a lot more. It’s pretty easy, and I want to tell others with 3D printers how to make them, so we can all help out the medical community right now.”

Wiley’s work led to other students helping with the production of masks. Shortly after Wiley’s feature on the Westminster Instagram, siblings Claire and Austin Genova, classes of 2021 and 2025 respectively, have also begun to produce masks for use by medical personnel. They too are making use of an at home 3D printer, which seems to be an effective tool for producing masks and other in demand materials. Overall, students’ creativity has fostered new innovative ways of serving the community. 

According to Wiley, students can use their opportunities as part of the Westminster community to provide for those in need during this unprecedented time.

“The healthcare community does so much to help us in our day to day lives,” said Wiley. “Here’s our chance to give back.”