While some emergencies can bring out the worst in people, the COVID-19 pandemic has some of our own responding by helping others both near and far. 

One example is the Sonny and Verna Rundell family.  They received a call explaining that Sonny’s niece, Jamie Harrison, a registered nurse in Florida, was in desperate need of masks. 

This soon became a family project with some members making caps, while Sonny and Verna made masks. 

Verna said they had made about 30, but elastic is hard to come by and the local Dollar General limits your purchase to one package, if you are making masks. 

“It gives us something to do and we are helping others, so we don’t go stir crazy,” said Verna. 

Another local resident, Marlene Ashmore, received a similar call for masks from her daughter Lindsey who is the Job Service Manager in Omaha, Nebraska. She oversees finding day workers for various businesses, including some from the local detention center. 

Lindsey asked her mom to make masks for those workers because they work closely and the masks could protect people they come in contact with.   

Ashmore found a pattern, and went to work.  The first few were a bit small, so she enlarged the pattern, making one to fit her husband.  She recognized it may be a bit large for some people, so the made the next one smaller, ending up with three sizes. 

She admits, just like the Rundell family, elastic was very difficult to find but a worker at Hobby Lobby suggested using elastic from a craft kit, and found it worked perfectly.  She also shared that pony tail holders work great.   

Marlene was able to send her daughter 110 masks. She prayed over each mask, asking for protection and safety for each person who received them. 

Marlene has also given some to elderly members of her church and extends her generosity to others in the community if they have a need or know of an elderly person who could use one, she will happily make one. “It only takes me six minutes,” she said excitedly.  She can be reached by calling 620-384-8190. 

Several hometown people have made the news lately given the shortage of supplies around the country. 

Alan Kirby, son of Bob and Arlene Kirby and  1996 SHS graduate, is living in Pittsburg, KS and was featured in the Collegio news for  creating masks using 3D printing. 

Alan’s dad, Bob Kirby said, “He has always been community minded so it’s no surprise that he has taken on this challenge.”

Alan is the Robotics expert for educational products for Pitsco Education. He mainly serves high schools in the southeastern portion of the United States, but also works in Ecuador, Jamaica and Puerto Rico.

“Every little bit helps,” Kirby said. “I try to keep my printer running at all times of the day and night.”

The masks Alan makes have no filter insert. He  is sending them to major hospitals in Washington state. They have the correct filters needed and insert them on site. 

His mom Arlene is also making masks. Bob says Arlene has made about seven, three layer cloth masks. 
“If you can’t blow out a candle with it on, that’s how you know it works.”

1969 SHS graduate Terry Baty is the Ryerson teammate behind the 3M mask production.  Since early March, Terry has been working 12 hours per day, six days a week  making the slit aluminum used in the nose clips of 3M N95 masks. Terry had planned on retiring in March but he has committed himself to working to help the world through this pandemic. 






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