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A teacher who turned his home into a PPE factory during the pandemic honored with a new car

Jason Erdreich, a middle school teacher, moved the school's 3D printers to his living room and printed masks day and night.

A teacher who turned his home into a PPE factory during the pandemic honored with a new car
Image courtesy: Jason Erdreich/ Mazda

At the start of the pandemic, healthcare workers in America were scrambling for personal protective equipment as the virus spread thick and fast across the country. Hospitals, Governors, States, Countries, and Head of States were all competing to source and PPE. Jason Erdreich, a middle school teacher from New Jersey, knew he had to do something to help ease the stress on healthcare workers and the community. The 26-year-old turned his home into a factory where he used 3D printers to produce face masks to give to the community during the health crisis. "I mean I had to. I had the resources to help, I was able to help, I couldn't not help others that were doing so much to help us, Erdreich told CNN. "Front line workers were, and are, doing so much to care for us, someone needs to make sure they are taken care of too. I'm glad I was able to contribute to that."

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Erdreich teaches woodworking, manufacturing, and robotics at Madison Junior School in Madison, New Jersey. He worked tirelessly during the early period of the pandemic to help the community. The teacher had fifteen 3D printers moved to his home from his school. He set them up in the living room of his home and then printed masks day and night. He wanted to do more so he taught his fellow teachers and other students how they could help make masks using 3D printers and together they managed to print more than 12,000 masks which were then given to hospitals, nursing homes, and local frontline workers.

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Erdreich has now been honored by Mazda for his contributions during the pandemic. Erdreich was given a new Mazda MX-5 Miata 100th Anniversary Special Edition. He is one of 50 people to be chosen by Mazda for their "selfless acts, creative thinking, and contributions to the community," said the company in a press release. It was Jason's wife, Cara Erdreich, who nominated him for the award. "I nominated you to be a Mazda hero because you were compassionate and generous in a time when people were afraid," Cara told her husband in a video posted by Mazda USA in a video that also showed him being surprised with the car. "He solves problems, in and out of the classroom,” said Erdreich’s wife, reported NJ. The car company cited omotenashi — the Japanese culture of putting other's needs first — as one of the reasons the company decided to create the Mazda Heroes program.

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"This year has been full of challenges and we wanted to lean into our brand's heritage of finding innovative ways to brighten people's lives," said Jeff Guyton, president of Mazda North American Operations. "We were inspired to create the Mazda Heroes program to honor all those who are working tirelessly to uplift their own communities." Along with Erdreich, an ICU nurse in Texas and a schoolteacher from Mississippi were also recognized by the car company in its first round of awards. The rest of the winners will be announced through the month of December. "I was speechless, I mean I never could have envisioned something like this happening to me, let alone for something I did," said Erdreich. "I'm not really one for the spotlight, but this has been a truly incredible experience. I feel very fortunate, and I am endlessly appreciative to my colleagues, students, administrators, community members, and my wife that really helped make all of the PPE in the thick of the pandemic, and even more so for the frontline workers we were making the PPE for," concluded Jason Erdreich.

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Disclaimer: Information about the pandemic is swiftly changing, and Upworthy is committed to providing the most recent and verified updates in our articles and reportage. However, considering the frequency in developments, some of the information/data in this article may have changed since the time of publication. Therefore, we encourage you to also regularly check online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization.

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