FORT STEWART, Ga. — Mathiew Tackitt, the son of two service members who retired in the Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield area, has been in and out of hospitals since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. With each visit, he has helped to stop the spread of COVID-19 by donating masks and mask-extenders.
Tackitt and his friend, Chris Larson, studied at the STEM Academy at Effingham College and Career Academy when COVID-19 started impacting the local community. He realized the situation posed a significant threat and, with his friend, decided to make a difference.
“I really liked the idea of being able to help the community,” Tackitt said. He stated community service was instilled in him by the Boy Scouts of America and by his parents, two former U.S. Army and U.S. Navy service members - Frederick and Susanna Tackitt, respectively.
Mathiew and Chris started making mask extenders using a 3D printer given to Tackitt by his brother, Eryck. They researched the Centers for Disease Control guidelines to start creating facemasks. The two items worked well together as the extenders could increase the size-range of the mask.
"If people can stay safe during this pandemic, especially those on the frontlines,” Tackitt said, "Then we'll be able to get through this pandemic faster.”
He noted healthcare providers would then be able to focus on helping those who are sick.
During a recent visit to Winn Army Community Hospital, Tackitt and Larson met some of the hospital's healthcare providers.
"I was so proud of the kids for their selfless acts," said Emergency Room charge nurse Pam Risner on the day of the visit. "They are not thinking about themselves and what they're missing out on. They are thinking outside of themselves and their community."
As his efforts continued, Tackitt said other volunteers stepped forward to help their Army community throughout this pandemic. Together they have donated more than 800 masks and
3000 mask extenders throughout the local healthcare community.
“It feels amazing,” Tackitt said. “I'm really glad we were able to help out.”
“Supporting Soldiers was just an obvious thing we had to do,” Larson said. “Especially since they're in our area and part of our local community here.”
Additional volunteer opportunities are available through the American Red Cross, Nationally at (877) 272-7337, on Fort Stewart at (912) 767-2197, FortStewart@RedCross.org; or through the Fort Stewart Army Community Services at (912) 767-5058.