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Middle school shop teacher who turned his home into a makeshift PPE factory is honored with new car

A New Jersey middle school shop teacher has been honored with a brand new car after he turned his home into a makeshift PPE factory at the height of coronavirus pandemic to produce thousands of masks for frontline workers.

With health care workers desperately running out of personal protective equipment as COVID-19 began ravaging its way across the US in March, Jason Erdreich, 26, of Randolph, decided he needed to help.

Erdreich, who teaches woodworking, manufacturing and robotics at Madison Junior School, borrowed 15 3D printers from the school and set them all up in his living room, printing face masks, respirators and face shields around the clock.

‘I mean I had to,’ he told CNN. ‘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.

‘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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Middle school shop teacher Jason Erdreich, 26, turned his Randolph, New Jersey home into a makeshift PPE factory when the coronavirus pandemic struck the US

Erdreich (shown above) began printing PPE around the clock in the Spring and has continued to do so throughout the year

One of his designs is showcased in the above image

Erdreich (shown above) began printing PPE around the clock in the Spring and has continued to do so throughout the year

has been named as one of 50 Mazda Heroes and was surprised with a brand new Mazda MX-5 Miata for his 'selfless acts'

has been named as one of 50 Mazda Heroes and was surprised with a brand new Mazda MX-5 Miata for his ‘selfless acts’ 

Erdreich also shared his knowledge with other shop teachers in the area, along with his students, and recruited them to join him in his mission. 

Together, Erdreich and his team have printed more than 12,000 items of PPE for hospitals, nursing homes and local frontline workers.

Now the educator has been named as one of 50 people chosen by Mazda to receive a new Mazda MX-5 Miata 100th Anniversary Special Edition for their ‘selfless acts, creative thinking, and contributions to community,’ the company said in a press release earlier this week.

He was nominated for the award by his wife, Cara Erdreich, who paid tribute to her husband’s ‘herculean’ heroics and his relentless desire to solve ‘problems in and out of the classroom’.

‘I nominated you to be a Mazda hero because you were compassionate and generous in a time when people were afraid,’ Cara is heard telling the 26-year-old in a video released by Mazda USA, showing the moment he’s surprised with the car. 

Erdreich, who teaches woodworking, manufacturing and robotics at Madison Junior School, borrowed 15 3D printers from the school and set them all up in his living room, printing face masks, respirators and face shields around the clock

Erdreich, who teaches woodworking, manufacturing and robotics at Madison Junior School, borrowed 15 3D printers from the school and set them all up in his living room, printing face masks, respirators and face shields around the clock

Erdreich also shared his knowledge with other shop teachers in the area, along with his students, and recruited them to join him in his mission

Erdreich also shared his knowledge with other shop teachers in the area, along with his students, and recruited them to join him in his mission

When schools reopened in September, the Madison teacher made an additional 750 face shields and 1,000 ear guards for every school employee

When schools reopened in September, the Madison teacher made an additional 750 face shields and 1,000 ear guards for every school employee

Announcing Erdreich as one of their heroes, Mazda cited ‘omotenashi’, which is the Japanese culture of putting other’s needs first before your own.

‘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,’ Jeff Guyton, president of Mazda North American Operations told the network. ‘We were inspired to create the Mazda Heroes program to honor all those who are working tirelessly to uplift their own communities.’

In addition to Erdreich, two other honorees have also been selected for the prize, including an ICU nurse in Texas and a schoolteacher in Mississippi. The remainder of the winners will be announced throughout December.

‘I was speechless, I mean I never could have envisioned something like this happening to me, let alone for something I did,’ Erdreich said on reflection of the award. ‘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,’ he continued.

Together, Erdreich and his team have printed more than 12,000 items of PPE for hospitals, nursing homes and local frontline workers

Together, Erdreich and his team have printed more than 12,000 items of PPE for hospitals, nursing homes and local frontline workers

He was nominated for the award by his wife, Cara Erdreich, who paid tribute to her husband¿s ¿herculean¿ heroics and his relentless desire to solve ¿problems in and out of the classroom¿.

A shocked Erdreich is seen above reacting to the moment the car is unveiled

He was nominated for the award by his wife, Cara Erdreich (left), who paid tribute to her husband’s ‘herculean’ heroics and his relentless desire to solve ‘problems in and out of the classroom’.

Erdreich and his team are continuing to make PPE as the pandemic enters its ninth month

Erdreich and his team are continuing to make PPE as the pandemic enters its ninth month

¿I was speechless, I mean I never could have envisioned something like this happening to me, let alone for something I did,¿ Erdreich said on reflection of the award

‘I was speechless, I mean I never could have envisioned something like this happening to me, let alone for something I did,’ Erdreich said on reflection of the award

As the threat of a second deadly wave of the virus continues to loom, and while lessons are still being held in a hybrid of online and in-person, Erdreich and his team are continuing to make PPE.

When schools reopened in September, the Madison teacher made an additional 750 face shields and 1,000 ear guards for every school employee.

‘We are making the best of a challenging situation,’ Erdreich said to TAPintoMadison. ‘Through a hybrid model, students are able to work with their teachers in person and virtually while keeping our community safe through distancing measures.

‘Teachers are working hard to redesign our content so it can be instructed in this new model while still being meaningful and engaging, and students are adapting to a new environment in terms of learning and socialization with their peers,’ he continued. ‘While we are literally distancing from one another, it’s certainly brought the community together.’

As for his new car, Erdreich says he currently has no plans to embark on a road trip; instead he says his mind is still fully focused on how he can give back to his community, particularly as the holiday season draws closer.

‘Now again more than ever, we need to work to keep our community together and support those in need,’ said Erdreich. ‘As an educator, I am always looking to improve and assist the lives of my students, their families, and my family.’


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