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One Story Of Stepping-Up, Amongst Many

FIGHTING THE “WAR” AGAINST COVID-19 … One mask at a time in her kitchen is Wauson resident Stephanie Wanless. We all need to help in whatever way we can and this effort, along with her family members has become her way.

By: Rebecca Miller

All across the United States of America, people with the ability and the wherewithal to sew have taken to making face masks as their way of helping to stem the tide of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

It makes some, who remember history class, think of what happened here in our country during the World Wars. Everyone did their part!  It was all a part of the War Effort.

On April 21, 2020, Bryan, Ohio resident Barb Mabus said it so well in a FaceBook post.  ”Growing up, I remember my mom and other women talking about things they did for the war effort. They rolled bandages…they raised money for the Red Cross…they worked for the USO.

Right now we are in a war. War is contagious. COVID-19 is contagious. War is evil. This is evil. War takes innocent lives. This takes innocent lives. War divides people. This divides people. In a war you can’t always tell who’s the enemy. With Covid-19 you can’t tell who’s going to spread it. So what do we do to help with the war effort? We make masks. We wear masks.”

“We pray for those on the front lines. We volunteer to deliver food. If we are at risk, we stay home. If we are not at risk, we keep from spreading COVID-19 to other people. We pick up our used masks and gloves AND dispose of them in the trash cans. We make an extra effort to be kind. We respect social distancing. We stop trying to undermine the work of our president.”

“We don’t post COVID-19 information from people who have not experienced it or are not medical experts. We fact check our information. This is the war we have to win. Someday your grandchildren will be listening to you talk about your war efforts in this, make them good ones. Make them constructive.”

In Wauseon, Ohio, Stephanie Wanless had her hours cut at work not long ago due to this “war” and got to thinking that she needed something to do with her time. “I watch the Governor’s Press Conference every day and I started thinking maybe I could help by making masks,” she shared in a phone interview.

“Then one day he mentioned that there are not enough for first responders.” Spurred into action, she ran an idea past her mother in law Verlinda Schantz, and soon Stephanie was on her way to Joanne Fabrics to purchase her first supply of material.

She chose cloth specifically designed for law enforcement and got enough to make masks for the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department and the Wauseon Police Department.

Sheriff Roy Miller and his department are all very happy about the masks that were made especially for them. “They have canines, handcuffs and police cars on them,” he said with a chuckle. “We love them.”  He shared how he came in to work one day and they were on his desk.

His secretary informed him that Stephanie Wanless had dropped them off and that there were enough for everyone. (Stephanie said they made forty four for the Sheriff’s department and twenty for the WPD, enough for everyone.)

“They” consists of Stephanie, her mother in law Verlinda, her ten year old cousin Bentlei Rocha and her daughter Paige Smith who is home from Bowling State University as school is closed for now. Bentlei is learning how to sew, and to do things for others with compassion, asking nothing in return.

Paige has been helping to put the ties on so that Stephanie is free to be sewing more masks.  So it has become quite a project, involving other family members as well who step in to make meals or clean, freeing the ladies to make the masks.

There are a number of different ideas for mask making on social media, but Stephanie has chosen to use a pattern that has a  pocket for a filter.  “Each person can put a folded disposable mask in the pocket, or a coffee filter or a blue shop towel, depending on what they have available,” Stephanie explained.

“They can throw away the disposable filters and wash the cotton masks and shop towels for reuse. It is best to hang them up to dry but tossing them in the dryer is ok, too,” she said.  The masks that she and her little team are making do not have elastic. They tie in the back and have a loop at the bottom so it can hang from the neck freely when the wearer needs a break from it. She got the pattern off a Cricket website and adjusted it, drawing it on card stock and making a pattern.

The area law enforcement are not the only ones who have benefitted from this love-gift. They have now purchased quite a lot of fabric and have made over 400 masks, donating them to the Ronald McDonald House, several nursing homes, the animal hospital in Archbold, the Cancer Center in Toledo, Fulton County Hospital, and Fulton Cty Board of Developmental Disabilities for whoever needs them.

Individuals have called to find out if they can get one and Stephanie has welcomed them. When they ask how much she is charging, she says if they will just make a donation it will make it possible for them to keep making them to donate where they are needed.

She said she has spent over $200 on material and every time she gets a donation she goes for more.  “That is what makes it possible for us to donate them to hospitals and other organizations,” she said.  If you would like one, she can be reached at 419-388-5052.

For someone who considers herself a casual seamstress…more of a craft person, Stephanie is doing a great job. She is glad that she has a sewing machine and that she learned how to run one when she was a child.  Her wartime effort is blessing others.

Rebecca can be reached at


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Source: The Village Reporter

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