Story by Nicole Johansson

It’s not the spring semester anyone had in mind. Yet, Wildcats juggling the transition to learning and working from home are making the best of it as they show their pride and serve their communities.

The pandemic continues to connect students, faculty, staff, and the University itself with local businesses and community partners in ways that demonstrate even though we are apart, we are stronger together.


Recreation Student Assembles Supply Kits 

Addison Bedford now has a good reason to go outside when she’s feeling cooped up.

“I’ve been driving around doing porch pickups of donations for my supply kits,” said the recreation, hospitality, and parks management major. 

In between her online classes, Bedford, a junior, is collecting toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, and masks for people experiencing homelessness in Chico. She started the project locally when her aunt, who lives in Bloomington, Indiana, asked her to share a Facebook group called Covid Homeless Project.

“It really took off when I posted it on a Chico community Facebook page called Chico Rant & Raves,” she said. “I wrote a post saying no matter how you feel about the homeless, this is what we have to do.”

Addison Bedford sits at a table with mask-making supplies.
Addison Bedford has been making masks to put in her kits using a template provided by Chico State HUB Productions on Instagram. (Photo courtesy of Bedford)

Bedford got more interest when Action News Now ran a story on her project. She said that people experiencing homelessness need support because they are at greater risk for contacting COVID-19, and noted that protecting their health also benefits the greater community. 

Bedford plans to donate her supply kits, which also include a tip sheet on safely protecting yourself during the pandemic, to the Torres Community Shelter. She needs about 50 more masks to complete the job and make the delivery. 

Bedford said she appreciates any donation, especially from students who want to make masks, and said she is using a template from the Chico State HUB Production’s Instagram to make them. She will gladly do a porch pick-up.

Anyone interested in helping can contact Bedford at abedford2@mail.csuchico.edu.


Giving Pints, Saving Lives

This time of year, it would be typical to see fraternities, sororities, and other student organizations hosting on-campus blood drives. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and its impacts to campus, the Associated Students has been encouraging Chico State students and employees to not let the shift to virtual instruction change their donating habits. 

Now more than ever, consistent blood donation is needed for possible patient surges during the pandemic as well as to offset blood needs that have occurred as a result of mobile blood donation campaigns canceled by stay-at-home orders, said Associate Director of AS Programs and Government Affairs Katie Peterson.

Anna Paladini, marketing manager for the Associated Students, donated in mid-April at Vitalant’s location on Rio Lindo Avenue after hearing stories of other staff and students joining the cause. She said she’s donated for many years and was excited by the chance to support those in need.

A nurse draws blood from a staff member's arm.
Even though on-campus blood drives are not happening, students, faculty, and staff can still represent Chico State by giving at Vitalant in Chico or blood banks in their communities.

“It was a great reason to get out of the house and made me feel like an active member of my community even though I have been sheltering in place for several weeks,” she said. “It was nice to see the nurses and others smiling and continuing to stay positive during this time.”

Individuals and groups seeking to participate are asked to follow the local blood bank’s current parameters, which include: 

Students who give blood are asked to post photos on social media with the hashtag #WildcatsServe.


A Plethora of Personal Protective Equipment 

When Chico State’s Emergency Operations Center heard the news that local hospitals and healthcare providers were in need of personal protective equipment (PPE), the campus heeded the call.

Marvin Pratt, director of Environmental Health Services (EHS), immediately started a University-wide inventory of PPE and a plan to consolidate whatever supplies it could share with those who needed them most.

“Our first priorities were the safety of our essential workers, such as campus police and student health, and to determine what PPE to hold in reserve and what could be donated,” Pratt said. 

Departments in the Colleges of Agriculture, Natural Sciences, and Engineering, Computer Science and Construction Management, along with Facilities Management and Services, University Housing, and many others gathered extra items they had and sent them to EHS.

Marvin Pratt sorts PPE collected from around campus.
Marvin Pratt looks through some of the personal protective equipment (PPE) that was collected across campus to share with community partners.

In all, the campus collected 68,000 pairs of rubber gloves, 1,800 masks, and 132 protective goggles and safety glasses for the county. The county took all the masks and eye protection, and the University has the gloves in reserve in case the need strikes.

“This is by far the largest campuswide collection I’ve ever coordinated,” said Pratt, who’s worked at the University for 27 years. “It was a great campus effort—EHS was just the middleman.”


Campus Joins Community Push for 3D PPE 

Through consultation with Enloe Medical Center and a partnership with tech startup Idea Fab Labs, the University is supporting the production of thousands of PPEs for healthcare workers using 3D printers. 

The project’s first phase is to make 3,000 face shields—with the possibility of making significantly more if there is demand. Watkins, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering and Sustainable Manufacturing, modified a design and has been sharing it with entities across campus.  

More than a dozen faculty, students, and community members have stepped up to volunteer their own 3D printers to produce face shield frames to help protect healthcare employees working the front lines. If needed, the University could use its plastic injection machines to greatly increase production.

a hand holds up a 3D printed mask against a model on a computer screen.
The 3D printed frames take about an hour to print, using a design modified in partnership with Enloe Medical Center.

“This is a community effort, it’s not just the University,” said, “Everybody wants to do their part to help.”

Individuals interested in supporting the project can email Eric Ayars, chair of the Department of Physics at eayars@csuchico.edu to get access to the template and details on how to drop off completed frames at Idea Fab Labs. Each piece takes approximately an hour to print.


Nicole Johansson is a Butte County resident who has worked as a marketing communications professional for the last 23 years. She is passionate about contributing as a writer and communicator to make our community a better place.