WOOSTER, Ohio – A generous donation from a nearby College of Wooster family will provide students with supplemental face masks this fall, ultimately helping make the campus community a healthier and safer place.
With it mandatory for students, faculty, and staff on campus to wear a face covering or mask in all public spaces (a few exceptions will be made for medical issues), a backup supply is necessary for when the coverings are lost or misplaced from time to time. Now, thanks to Kim Leuschel, the mother of Wooster junior Sky Gill, a large number of stylish, cloth face masks—540 to be exact—will be available for those who need them (details for distribution are still being worked out).
The idea of making and donating masks came to Leuschel when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit and she found herself with extra time on her hands while hosting her daughter plus two other Wooster students as they completed the spring semester virtually from her home in Seville, Ohio (about 30 minutes north of Wooster). The trio served as Leuschel’s “guinea pigs,” as she started making different designs to try and they offered constructive feedback. The initial batch of “Olson style” went to University Hospitals in April and another 150 went to Heinen’s grocery store, while others were hung for the taking on a clothesline at the end of their driveway.
With the masks being a big hit within her home community, Leuschel wondered how she could continue to best make an impact as the pandemic extended into summer, and helping her daughter came to mind. “I felt that donating to the College was an extension of the idea of helping my community,” she explained. “This is where my daughter is going to be living. Selfishly, I want to keep her safe by encouraging others to mask up.”
So, Leuschel, who has made more than 1,000 masks in all, sprang into action with an assist this time. While she carried out all the cutting and sewing, the family stepped in to form an assembly line approach in putting together the final product, with husband Jim Gill cutting the holes for the elastic ear straps, then Sky threading the straps through before she tied them.
Five hundred forty, 3D-style masks in a variety of colors and fabric designs later, members of the Wooster community can sleep a little better knowing an extra step has been taken to ensure the safety of campus, all thanks to the efforts of the modest Leuschel. “I simply wanted to do what I could to keep Wooster students as safe as possible,” she said. “We are asked to wear face masks as a kindness to others. Wearing a mask is not about protecting yourself, but about protecting others.”