Fighting Fear with Action

In the throes of a pandemic, Toyota team members step up to help those who are even more vulnerable

April 01, 2020
On a Mission -- R&D's Steve Greco and Jason Stark load up a Tacoma with the haul of the medical supplies they and their colleagues collected in preparation for delivery to three locations, including the University of Michigan's COVID-19 centralized drop-off point.
 

The COVID-19 pandemic is a source of anxiety for all of us, whether it’s fear of spreading or contracting the virus or concern about the impact on the automotive industry.

But rather than freeze in the face of uncertainty, Toyota team members across North America are stepping up to do what they can to help others who might be even more vulnerable.

Given the scope and fluidity of the situation, it’s impossible to capture the full breadth and depth of this support. So think of these examples of outreach as data points on a chart that, collectively, speak volumes about this organization’s empathy, inventiveness and can-do spirit.

Specifically by facility:

  • Toyota Motor North America — Social Innovation, in addition to coordinating TMNA and its affiliates across 13 states to donate a total of $500,000 to several local United Way chapters, is marshalling support for food-related organizations such as the North Texas Food Bank and Meals on Wheels.
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky — Collected and delivered 2,000 N95 masks, 1,000 respirators and 250 pairs of safety glasses.
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada — Donated 1,000 N95 masks for use at four hospitals within the Canada Regional Health Council and is sourcing plastic face shields and boot covers.
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Missouri — Donated 160 N95 masks to first responders in Troy, Missouri, and Jackson, Tennessee.
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Alabama — Donated 160 pair of safety glasses to the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce for distribution to local hospitals.
Every Little Bit Helps -- Dr. Matthew Upton of the Thomas Health System in South Charleston, West Virginia, gratefully accepts donations of personal protection equipment gathered by TMMWV team members.
 
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana — Donated cotton fabric to Chemo Buddies, a chemotherapy patient support group that is spearheading the making of N95 masks, as well as a $11,100 grant to the Red Cross to sponsor three local community blood drives.
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Mississippi — Team members produced over 1,000 reusable masks for use by area hospitals; partnered with onsite cafeteria vendor, Sodexo Magic, to donate 150 meals to the Tupelo-Lee Hunger Coalition and fresh produce to the Union County Baptist Association.
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing, West Virginia — Donated 1,200 pairs of gloves, 100 pairs of shoe covers, 50 N95 masks and 50 pairs of safety glasses to Jackson General Hospital.
  • Toyota Racing Development — Contributed 65 N95 masks to Fire Station #28 in Orange County, California.
  • Toyota Arizona Proving Ground — Delivered 40 N95 masks, three boxes of alcohol cleaning wipes, four Tyvek suits, six pairs of boot covers, 700 surgical caps, 2,100 nitrile gloves and 972 pairs of safety glasses to a local hospital.
  • Calty Design Research — Donated 60 P95 masks and 250 pairs of surgical gloves to the University of Michigan Medical Center.
  • Toyota Research Institute — Donated a wide array of PPE items to healthcare facilities in California, Michigan and Massachusetts.
  • R&D — Gathered and delivered to three Southeast Michigan hospitals a wide array of personal protection equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers, including more than 600 N95 masks, 2,400 surgical masks, 9,000 surgical gloves, 3,400 cotton swabs and three plastic face shields.
That last bullet point deserves a bit of amplification. It would not have happened if not for the personal initiative of Jason Stark, an engineer who works in Materials Engineering at R&D in Ann Arbor. It started when he saw a report on the local evening news about citizens donating PPE to healthcare workers, then shifted into gear when he talked with his son’s pediatrician during a routine wellness visit the following morning.
 
Special Delivery -- Here's some of the personal protection equipment collected and delivered by TMMK members.
 

“I couldn’t stop thinking about it,” says Stark. “So I sent an email to (Group Vice President) Randy Stephens suggesting we start some sort of collection activity. He supported it strongly and gained agreement at meeting with his leadership team later that day.”

Stark then reached out to several colleagues, including Steve Greco in Safety, Nik Singh with TRINA, Adam Deedler in Performance Analysis and Evaluation and others. Together they searched R&D’s labs for supplies and — on a Saturday — delivered the goods to those who needed them most.

“We all agreed it couldn’t wait until Monday,” says Stark. “I also contacted suppliers I work with on a regular basis and encouraged them to do the same. I am hopeful in the coming days we can accelerate and broaden these efforts within Toyota.”




Meanwhile, multiple teams — with Production Engineering taking the lead — are exploring the feasibility of producing plastic face shields with the aid of 3D printers. Stay tuned for more on that front.

And the Lexus Velodrome — an indoor cycling track in Detroit — has extended an offer to open up its doors to the Detroit Medical Center, the largest healthcare provider in Southeast Michigan, should it need extra space to handle an overflow for whatever reason. Nothing has materialized yet, but it’s one to keep an eye on. Best case scenario: the hospital won’t need it.

This is just the beginning.

By Dan Miller

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