Kent State Tuscarawas Alumna Gives Back by Sewing Face Masks
When her part-time job at the Dover Public Library was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kent State University at Tuscarawas alumna and former adjunct instructor Sherrel Rieger of Dover was looking for something to do with her extra time and energy. She and her aunt, Joyce Espenshied, decided to help the community by making and donating over 800 face masks to area healthcare facilities and members of the Hispanic community from March to May.
When their personal supplies of material and elastic ran out, they were replenished with the help of JOANN Fabrics, friends and family.
“In May, our mask-making slowed down, but never stopped,” said Rieger. “At the beginning of June, Toni Ferritto, secretary for the director of nursing at Kent State Tuscarawas, asked if I would be willing to sew masks for the nursing students. I said I was happy to do that. Afterall, I was an alumna of Kent State and had taught Spanish there in the 1990s, and, quite honestly, I was looking for something to keep me occupied during the lockdown.”
Kent State Tuscarawas provided the face mask supplies, and Ferritto delivered them to Rieger, who quickly began to sew 60 to 70 face masks for nursing students who were beginning their clinicals in July. The response to the face masks was very positive, so Ferritto kept delivering materials and Rieger kept sewing.
“Over the next several weeks, Toni and I exchanged supplies and completed masks on our front porches,” said Rieger. By the end of July, Rieger had donated her time and talents to sew 280 face masks for Kent State Tuscarawas students and staff. Rieger said the project kept her active and gave her a purpose.
“It was such a great way to support my alma mater and to serve my community at a time when we need each other so much,” said Rieger.
Rieger retired from Dover City Schools in 2018, where she taught Spanish and French. She has also volunteered her time as an usher for the Performing Arts Center at Kent State Tuscarawas.