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Solatube
Vista-based Solatube donated 5,000 face shields to health care workers in San Diego County and New York in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy photo
Community News Region

Local companies lend support to healthcare workers

REGION — The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an outpouring of support for front-line healthcare workers throughout the country.

And North County has been no different as businesses have pivoted to make personal protective equipment (PPE), hand sanitizer and other necessities to protect medical professionals.

And joining the cause are three businesses, one each in Carlsbad, Encinitas and Vista, who’ve used their resources to lend their support.

Carlsbad restaurant Casero Taqueria and Encinitas Ford partnered to donate 1,300 burritos last week to five hospitals in the county, while Vista-based Solatube, a lighting and ventilation company, manufactured and donated 5,000 face shields throughout San Diego County.

“There are so many people doing such great things,” said Casero Taqueria’s Craig Applegate said. “We really wanted to be part of the solution or part of putting something positive in their day. Even though we’re not open, we thought [about] how we could support the community.”

Casero Taqueria
Carlsbad restaurant Casero Taqueria and Encinitas Ford are teaming up to donate burritos to health care workers in San Diego County as they battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Steve Puterski

Applegate and his Casero Taqueria partner, Clayton Wheeler, teamed up with Wheeler’s father, Mark, who owns Encinitas Ford and donated $10,000 to stock up the burritos. The restaurant opened just eight months ago in the new Square at Bressi Ranch, but closed March 16 due to the pandemic.

Wheeler said his mother had the idea to team up with his dad to jump-start their food program. And now, they started a GoFundMe — Encinitas Ford will match every dollar up to $15,000.

Should they hit their goal, it would give them enough money for about 3,000 burritos to donate to hospitals and fire and police departments, Clayton Wheeler said. The restaurant itself will reopen on May 1 for takeout orders and is also partnering with Uber Eats for deliveries.

“It was my mom’s idea and she said she really wanted to feed the health care workers and it would be great if you and your dad would team up,” Wheeler said. “It was amazing to give back to those communities that need our help. You can tell food is kind of the last thing on their mind. They’re working extremely long days and are under pressure.”

Meanwhile, Solatube recently donated 500 face shields to Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, along with hundreds more to other facilities in the county, according to Tim Deming, the company’s director of marketing. The company is also planning on shipping hundreds of shields to New York City hospitals, police and state police officers.

Deming said Solatube has remained open as it is classified as an essential business for its services regarding air ventilation. The company also manufactures sky lights, he said.

Deming said the company got active when James Hedgecock, director of product development, and other employees relayed their stories and concerns from friends or family working in health care.

“It’s been fantastic for morale and the company,” Deming said. “When you give, you don’t realize the effect it has. At this point, we’re continuing to do it until the need is no longer there.”

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