Everyday Heroes

Brilliant! Grad Student Repurposes Unused Graduation Gowns

With most commencement ceremonies canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, he came up with another use for the millions of gowns that might otherwise never be worn.

With people gearing up to graduate all over the country, most are finding that they don't have much use for a traditional cap and gown. That includes University of Vermont student Nathaniel Moore, whose own ceremony was canceled because of social distancing rules.

Moore, who earned an MBA with a focus on sustainability, is also a physician's assistant, and his experience working on the front lines of the coronavirus gave him an idea on how to put his unused graduation gown to good use.

"The image of my colleagues on the front line and at other medical facilities that lack the appropriate PPE and wearing trash bags with no sleeves and no protection under the waist, that just struck me," Moore, 30, told Reuters.

Find out how Gowns 4 Good works by watching this super-cute video about the program...

Moore did some research, and he found that if medical staff wore the gowns with the opening in the back and the high collars in the front, they fit the CDC requirements to protect the "critical zones" of the body, which includes the forearms, chest, stomach and waistline.

"The beauty is they do not have to be adjusted in any fashion," Moore said of the gowns. "We compared them to other alternative forms that are being utilized, like trash bags, and the gown, if you wear it backwards, it makes for easy donning and doffing, which is the putting on and taking off of the gown in a protected fashion."

Healthcare workers can use the gowns to protect themselves on the job. Gowns4Good/Facebook

Moore started Gowns 4 Good about a month ago to collect as many donated graduation gowns as possible. The gowns are then upcycled into PPE for healthcare workers. He used the slogan "Wear the Cap, Donate the Gown" to encourage his fellow graduates to participate in the program while still holding on to a piece of their hard-earned regalia.

Medical facilities can request gowns on the Gowns 4 Good website, and Moore and his team work to fill the orders as quickly as possible. He just asks people who receive the gowns to wait at least three days before wearing them, which is the suggested amount of time that researches say the virus can survive on clothing.

Gowns4Good receives the donated gowns before sending them off to organizations that need them.Gowns4Good/Facebook

One senior care facility that received gowns said Gowns 4 Good came through for them when they needed it most.

"I've been spending most of my days trying to locate masks and gloves, gowns, face shields and hand sanitizer," Michele Anstett, the president of Visiting Angels agency in Massachusetts, said. "Gowns were like my last thing that I was really struggling to find a supply. Nothing was available."

Gowns 4 Good has received over 1,500 gowns since they started about a month ago. Gowns4Good/Facebook

Anstett said she was getting ready to sew gowns for staff members herself when she heard about Gowns 4 Good. She applied for gowns on the website and started to receive her order the next day.

"I am so overwhelmed," Anstett said. "I can't even express how thankful I am for these people and what they're doing."

What a wonderful solution to an unfortunate problem. Kudos to Moore for thinking outside of the box to help his colleagues on the front line!

Moore hopes that students across the country will spread the word and encourage more donations to Gowns 4 Good. Gowns4Good/Facebook

How can you start something good?

You can learn more about Gowns 4 Good by visiting their website. If you would like to donate a gown, click here to fill out an online application. Then Gowns 4 Good will send you information about how to ship your gown. You can also request gowns by filling out an online application.

Other ways to help include hosting a collection box or community drive, contributing to shipping and logistical costs and helping to spread the word on social media. Just be sure to use the hashtag #Gowns4Good!

Let's #StartSomethingGood together!

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