Periods of crisis necessitate innovation, and Dimitri Syrkin-Nikolau, owner of Dimo’s Pizza in Chicago, could teach a crash course in the subject right now.

Syrkin-Nikolau rose to the challenge when he learned that local hospitals were struggling with a lack of needed equipment, such as masks and face shields, to protect healthcare workers who are saving lives in the coronavirus health crisis. He hit upon the idea of using his pizza oven to heat acrylic sheets to the point that they become malleable. In collaboration with a local metalworks company, the acrylic can then be used to mold face shields for doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers.

“To make it possible for us to produce face shields, our friends at Avenue Metal made a custom mold that allows us to shape the heated and malleable acrylic into the correct shape,” a GoFundMe campaign page for the effort explains. “We then attach a riveted velcro strap and pad to complete the shield.”

As of April 14, the GoFundMe campaign had raised $3,963 toward a goal of $10,000 over four days. Additionally, Syrkin-Nikolau takes a portion of sales for every Take ‘N Bake family meal and Build-Your-Own Pizza Kit that his pizzeria sells and uses it to feed frontline workers in Chicago at no cost. Dimo’s Pizza has even added make-at-home focaccia kits to the mix, starting with classic rosemary focaccia with roasted garlic and sea salt.

Notwithstanding GoFundMe’s fees, all donations go directly to either providing meals to essential workers or manufacturing the face shields, according to the Dimo’s Pizza fundraiser page.

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