Major Retail, Manufacturers Step Up and Operation Expands Nationally
Rebel Converting, a Saukville based manufacturer of hospital grade disinfectant wipes, is more than tripling its initial donation of face mask kits in Wisconsin. Earlier in the month, the company shifted production to meet the growing need for personal protective equipment. Since the initial donation of a million face mask kits in April, demand for face masks has exponentially grown with daily requests pouring in from hospitals and clinics, EMTs, first responders, emergency food workers, city bus drivers, nonprofits and retirement homes.
To help meet the continual increased need, Rebel Converting owner Mike Kryshak announced today the company would increase its donation to 3.5 million face mask kits.
How did the Milwaukee million mask challenge begin?
After learning of the shortage of masks nationwide and how it was affecting Milwaukee, Thaddeus Kryshak, a recent graduate in engineering and physics from the University of Miami, spoke to his father Mike Kryshak, owner of Rebel Converting about how they might be able to produce facemasks using the materials that they were already using to produce hospital-grade disinfectant wipes. Thaddeus then developed a way to convert the same material used to manufacture hospital-grade disinfectant wipes into a face mask that is similar to a surgical mask.
Rebel is donating enough of the mask kits to produce 3.5 million masks. Additionally, Rebel is supplying the materials to Wisconsin manufacturers that are donating the manpower and space to assemble the masks. Shoemaker Allen Edmonds, along with sailboat hardware and accessory manufacturer Harken, are sewing thousands of masks each week. Allen Edmonds alone anticipates 100,000 masks produced by the end of this week.
What began as a local initiative is now expanding nationally. Recently, Rebel began donating mask “straps” to major national retailers whose tailors are sewing them and working with health care systems to distribute them nationally. So far, those masks have been distributed to Washington, Oregon, Texas and California. Plans are currently underway to expand to New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Washington DC and Florida.
Milwaukee Nonprofits Band Together to Organize Hundreds of Volunteers
Multiple nonprofits and community organizations have banded together to form the Milwaukee Civic Response Team thanks to leadership from the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, and the City of Milwaukee. The team provides project strategy, funding and volunteer management for a campaign called MaskUpMKE – a social awareness campaign that was initiated by Rebel & Ignite Change that encourages Milwaukeeans to wear face masks when they go out.
As part of the MaskUpMke effort, UniteMKE and the Office of Violence Prevention at City of Milwaukee Department of Health mobilized to get masks to individuals standing in line at the polls during the controversial election last week. UniteMKE also got them into the hands of community health workers and immune-compromised.
Other nonprofits, such as Just One More Ministry, are taking an active role by organizing their own volunteers and have already assembled 200,000 masks to-date, with another 400,000 masks currently in assembly.
Medical College of Wisconsin Assist in Distribution
Locally, staff and medical students from the Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Institute and the Medical College of Wisconsin have coordinated the assembly and distribution of nearly 200,000 masks, triaging urgent requests for masks to front line health care, police, fire and rescue workers, as well as over 50 community-based organizations and underserved communities. These early efforts are contributing to flattening the curve of COVID-19 spread in Milwaukee. Last week, the team began working on creating a nearly touch-free distribution point for the masks throughout the Metro-Milwaukee area. For more information on you or your company can help with the million mask challenge visit – rebelconverting.com
About Rebel Converting
Rebel converts giant rolls of advanced non-woven fabrics into wet wipes that fit inside canisters, buckets and dispensers that allow end users to clean everything from operating rooms to shopping carts. We source major industrial brands and don’t sell our product to the any market under our own brand label. To do so would be a conflict of interest, the way we see it. We also believe in true partnerships saving our customers money, even when it takes money out of our own pockets in the short term. From the start, we have believed passionately in giving back to our communities – as do our family of great, experienced employees. Get to know us. We are the rebels with a cause.
*About the 100 Million Mask Challenge
The 100 Million Masks Challenge was launched by Providence health care network, Renton WA. The torch has now been passed to many other organizations, including the American Hospital Association. Locally, in the Metro-Milwaukee area, Rebel Converting has committed to producing enough kits to make 2.5 million masks for the medical and nonprofit community serving those most at-risk of contracting COVID-19.