Haskins, Ohio --
Stay at home order? No problem.
When Ohio Governor, Mike DeWine, issued the order to stay at home, March 22, 2020, in a state-wide effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus currently sweeping the globe, one Ohio resident set out to give back to the community.
Lifelong Northwest Ohio resident, Kelly Hale, immediately started her project in her small town of Haskins, Ohio, making cloth masks with a small group of family and neighbors.
“My niece is a dialysis nurse and asked if I could make her some masks,” said Hale. “But I thought, why stop there.”
Sewing for more than 45 years, Hale learned the basics from her mother, she honed her skill in high school economics class and has been sewing ever since.
Using fabric collected over the years, left over from other projects, Hale spent nearly 200 hours, sewing more than 300 masks on her own before running out of supplies at the end of March.
“I posted in our neighborhood Facebook group and got a huge response,” said Hale. “I’ve had neighbors donate fabric, elastic and ribbon. I’ve also had people pick up fabric to cut for me and another picked up fabric to help me sew.”
The efforts of Hale and her small army of friends and neighbors have allowed her to outfit area doctors, nurses and 75 masks for the Haskins police and fire departments.
“The police department couldn’t be happier to have received these gifts from Mrs. Hale,” said Colby Carroll, chief of the Haskins police department. “My officers were very grateful for her generosity and thankful for her donation. Mrs. Hale is a perfect example of the residents of the Village of Haskins and the community mindedness they have for support of their police department and their community.”
Hale even made more than 30 masks for the Soldiers, assigned to the Ohio National Guard’s HHC 1-148th Infantry Regiment – 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The Soldiers are currently assisting the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank as part of the Governor’s effort to fight hunger throughout the state as more and more people are staying home to stay safe.
“It was really great to learn what the Soldiers were doing in Northwest Ohio,” said Hale. “I felt proud and happy to help protect them while they are out serving in our communities. The Soldiers were so appreciative, they sent me a video with all of them wearing their masks, saying thank you. I loved that.”
With 100 more orders already in the queue, the requests for orders continue to flow in from those on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19. Some as far away as Cincinnati, Ohio.
While focused on medical personnel, first responders, military and others dedicated to fighting the virus, Hale will provide masks for individuals and families, on a case-by-case basis, such as those with autoimmune diseases and families with children where the adult parents are working on the front lines.
With continued help from community donations and extra hands, Hale plans to continue her mission as long as the need is there.
“I have put a bin on the front porch, for both supply donations and so people can pick up their orders,” said Hale. “But sometimes I find little surprises like thank you cards and letters and even cash donations. A little boy even wrote me a thank you letter and contributed his allowance to the cause.”
“It feels wonderful that as a community, we are coming together to support our front-line workers,” Hale said. “If that little piece of fabric I provide can makes them feel just a little bit safer while they are putting themselves out there, then I’ll keep doing it.”
“Miss Kelly is a local hero,” said 2Lt. Stephen Reed, assigned to the Ohio National Guard’s HHC 1-148th Infantry Regiment – 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, who received one of Hale’s. “Even behind the scenes, she is showing that we are in this together Ohio.”
Hale remains grateful to help in any way she can, even with little messages of hope for her community and our frontline workers.
“To the community,” said Hale. “Embrace this time and get to know one another from a distance, by helping with a project like this, with chalk art, or even on social media like your neighborhood Facebook pages.”
“To our frontline workers,” Hale continued. “God bless them. They don’t have a choice but to go to work and put themselves in harm’s way. If there is anything we can do to make it just a little easier for them, I’m glad to be a part of it.”