KITCHENER -- Several staff from the Waterloo Catholic District School Board took home 3D printers last spring to help make face shield parts for front-line health workers.

When the pandemic began, small tech company InkSmith went to social media to ask for help.

"Looking for anyone that had a 3D printer to support them in their initiatives in creating face shields," said Michael Leonard, innovation lead for WCDSB.

The school board redeployed 40 3D printers for the project.

"A total of over 75 volunteers, ranging from educational assistants, library techs, teachers, IT staff, vice principals, principals," Leonard said.

Staff were making PPE parts while also pivoting to virtual teaching from living rooms and spare bedrooms.

"In the background there was the hum of the 3D printer that was on the dresser," Grade 4 teacher Christopher Luciani said.

"It actually included people who never tried it before but really wanted to get involved and support this amazing initiative," Leonard said.

School board administrators said the community collaboration has made them feel stronger together.

"We reach out, we do what we need to do to make it comes together and made it happen," Holy Family CES principal Richard Setler said. "I couldn't be prouder."

Inksmith, donated 20,000 face shields to front-line workers in a few short weeks before forming a spinoff company, Canadian Shield. They now make about 200,000 face shields a day.

"Without those community supports, and especially the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, I don't think we'd be here today," said Jeremy Hedges, Canadian Shield president. "That's really the spark and the foundation of everything we built."