Automakers building ventilators. Clothing designers sewing face masks. These task changes sound like those that ordinary citizens performed during World War II. But today’s enemy isn’t a foreign power: It’s a global virus.
During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act. That 1950 federal law is still in force. It allows a U.S. president to compel companies to produce goods. But before President Trump enforced the law, volunteers around America were already eagerly making changes.
For the Christian, doing good works—like mask-making or machine-building—not only helps people, but it also glorifies God. If you do good for people, you show God to them. (1 Corinthians 12:7)
During World War II, Americans supported the war effort by adapting quickly. Production of household goods like appliances stopped. Parts and pieces went into making objects for military use. Maytag, a washing machine company, made parts for B-26 bombers. The E. Ingraham Company turned from clock parts to cartridges.
The automobile industry was a key wartime producer. Chrysler made airplane bodies. General Motors produced engines, guns, and tanks. And Ford Motor Company rolled a bomber off its assembly line every 63 minutes.
That same do-whatever-it-takes spirit appeared during the fight against the coronavirus. Quilters at the Missouri Quilt Museum made masks for local hospitals. According to director Dakota Redford, “This has been a true grassroots effort that has exploded across the country in the quilting world.”
It exploded elsewhere too. Bill Purdue waterproofs basements in Indiana. But this spring, he spent days cutting rectangles of cotton fabric while a friend sewed them into face masks.
In Baltimore, volunteers with 3-D printers made plastic face shields for area hospitals.
Fashion designer Briana Danyele turned her mother’s South Carolina living room into a mini sewing factory. She embroidered face masks with “We Got This!”
Veterinarians from Colorado to New York also helped. Some donated equipment and supplies meant for Fido but repurposed to fight the spread of COVID-19 among humans.
As in WWII, automakers stepped up. Tesla and GM built medical devices. And Ford delivered big again. President and CEO Jim Hackett told his engineers “to be scrappy and creative” designing breathing machines and producing 100,000 plastic face shields per week.
Mother-daughter team Katie Bright and Joan Brown retooled their wool goods business, True Having. The Christian duo took their company name from a Charles Spurgeon quotation: “Giving is true having.” They pivoted from pillows and purses to face masks after reading about the need in Portland, Oregon.
“The decision was quick,” Bright says. “We had the material, we had the means, and we had a desire to contribute in any way we could.”