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PAIGE COLE SEWS colorful cloth masks in her Ada home. The high school junior has made about 70 masks for health care workers, and can finish a mask in seven minutes. (Photo provided)

By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF

Staff Writer

ADA — Paige Cole is trying to make the most of her extra time at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ada High School junior is exploring college options. She’s also sewing masks for health care workers.

“It’s so much fun to do and it makes time go a lot faster,” she said.

Normally, the 17-year-old would be busy attending classes at Ada, where she’s a member of the student council and was recently inducted into the National Honor Society. But when the school went to home-based instruction in March, Paige had to find other ways to keep busy. That’s when she decided to pull out her sewing machine.

“My mom’s friend was making them for Lima Memorial (Hospital) to cover their N95 masks so they would last longer,” Paige explained.

The friend was producing masks for her sister who works at the hospital. Paige said her cousin, a physician’s assistant, also works at the Lima hospital.

Paige started sewing when she was younger, making American Girl clothes.

“Nothing fancy,” she said. “I made skirts and aprons, and especially pillows. I loved making pillows.”

She said directions for making the masks were easy to follow and learn. A friend donated cotton fabric, and Paige opted to use ribbon and thick yarn to tie the masks in place, instead of elastic.

“I was told it (elastic) kind of hurts their ears, so they kind of liked having the tie,” she said.

To date, she’s made about 70 masks. Some went to Ada High School Superintendent Meri Skilliter, who passed them along to mental health facilities in Allen, Auglaize, Hardin and Hancock counties. Others went to Lima Memorial Hospital.

Paige said all the sewing practice has enabled her to produce a mask pretty quickly.

“I timed myself, and from start to end, it’s about seven minutes to sew a mask,” she laughed. “As soon as I make one, I want to make them for the rest of the day.”

Paige works part time at Ohio Northern University’s Sodexo dining services. And for the past two summers, she’s been a lifeguard at the Ada pool. She is a member of the Ada High School swim team, the Ada Gators and Lima Barracudas.

Paige said she’s interested in an undergraduate degree in nursing. She added that the pandemic has only increased her desire to become a nurse.

“I have such a high interest, and I just love helping people out and making them feel better. I understand it’s a very scary time, but it’s also a huge learning experience. It feels nice that I got to help out,” she said. “And I would hope if this would ever happen when I’m older, that maybe some young kid would love to do the same for me.”

Paige said her next sewing project will be learning to make scrub caps.

“I’d really like to be a scrub nurse when I’m older, and a lot of women use scrub caps,” she said. “Now I’m trying to find patterns online. I think it would so much fun to make.”

Wolf: 419-427-8419

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