MIAMI — Goodwill South Florida has converted a portion of its sewing operations to manufacture 20,000 masks for employees at Ryder System Inc. to wear as they support the flow of essential goods and services needed in the fight against COVID-19.
“James Ryder was one of three founders of Goodwill some 60 years ago, so when we got the call from Ryder asking if we could help produce scarce personal protective equipment for their employees, we immediately sprang into action,” said David Landsberg, CEO of Goodwill South Florida.
It’s also fitting because just last year, when Goodwill celebrated its 60th anniversary, the two partners announced a multiyear partnership and established the “Ryder Apparel Manufacturing Division” at Goodwill South Florida’s headquarters. Inside the facility, people with disabilities and other barriers to employment typically manufacture U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force uniforms, as well as interment flags for military veterans.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the operations have been shuttered, but Goodwill recently opened a portion of its production capabilities to produce much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for local hospitals and front-line workers. The masks for Ryder are made with camouflage on the outside and a softer fabric on the inside, and have elastic ear loops.
“The men and women of Ryder are working day and night to make sure the essential products and services get to where they need to be for all of us and our families during this challenging time,” said Heather Gatley, vice president and deputy general counsel for Ryder, and a member of the board of directors for Goodwill South Florida. “We are thankful for the expertise of Goodwill in being able to quickly ramp up their sewing operations to make face masks to further protect the health and safety of our truck drivers, warehouse workers, technicians in the shop, and rental-counter employees.”
Goodwill South Florida is taking measures to ensure the safety of the employees who are working to produce personal protective equipment by having the facilities sanitized regularly, placing sewing machines at a distance of 6 feet apart and installing vinyl partitions between workstations. Also, staff nurses take daily temperatures and provide masks and hand sanitizers to each dedicated Goodwill employee entering the facility.