Over the past two weeks, the Riley family, which owns and operates Art’s Appliance and Furniture in Moberly, has been making hundreds of face shields for local first responders in an effort to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

So far, the family and some friends have made about 1,500 face shields and have donated them to emergency management agencies like the Randolph County Ambulance District, the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office, Mobelry Regional Medical Center, Moberly Fire Department and Moberly Police Department, among others.

The idea was sparked from a Facebook group that Bobby Riley was involved in. Some of his friends and car audio competitors in the group suggested that they all use their workshops to help design and manufacture the face shields for first responders. Designs were made by some of the group’s members in eastern states and sent out to the smaller shops, including Riley’s.

“Once we found some designs that we could do in our small shop, we decided that we needed to do this,” said Trae Riley “We felt that we needed to help our community before it blew up. We want to do what we can to help. If we stop one person from getting the virus then that’s good enough.”

Trae Riley used an analogy about a helping out a neighbor whose house is on fire to describe his family’s efforts during the pandemic.

"In our case the fire department is these big corporations that are tooling up to make their masks, he said. “But we are watching our neighbor’s house burn and we have a fire extinguisher and a bucket. So we need to do what we can until those people show up. We’re kind of the first line until these companies, like 3M, get the stuff out there.”

The project started off self-funded, by the Riley’s quickly pulled in donations from the community to help sustain the project.

“We started using our own money and a few donations from a few key people in the community,” Trae Riley said. “After that, we’ve had a lot of donations and that’s really what’s kept us going on this. ...The more donations we get, the more we can keep this up.”

Those interested in donating can contact info@artsappliance.com to help fund the creation of more face shields. Outside donations have helped pay for the 600 most recent face shields, Trae Riley said.

Personal protective equipment like the face shields and N95 masks are imperative to the operations of emergency services, the heads of the Moberly police and fire departments said.

“It’s a great thing, because in any disaster we always talk about how efforts start local and end local,” said Moberly Fire Chief George Albert.

Both departments were issued a supply of N95 masks by the Missouri Department of Public Safety, though the supply is still limited for the time being.

“We’re very appreciative of it,” said Moberly Police Chief Troy Link. “...That equipment could be the difference in having an operational law enforcement agency and having everyone sick at home with the coronavirus.”

The departments, along with most other emergency management agencies, have changed their policies to limit contact with the public when possible.


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