Make a Difference by Masking Up

By Kaitlyn Kelley

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way students will be going about their day-to-day lives in several ways, with one of the most apparent changes being the enforcement of face coverings across campus.

Coming into the Fall 2020 semester, Youngstown State University announced students are required to wear face coverings on campus and inside campus buildings for the safety of themselves and others. 

Some YSU students saw this as an opportunity to not only undertake a new project, but also to use that project to help others in need.

A mask Sally Frederick created to raise funds for veterans. Photo
courtesy of Sally Frederick.

Sisters Jessica Neral, a senior hospitality management major, and Samantha Neral, a senior psychology major, are two of these individuals. They are both a part of different organizations on campus and have been making masks as a means to raise money for the charities associated with those organizations.

“I’m raising my money for the Akron Children’s Hospital,” Samantha Neral said, “because I’m a big part of Guinathon. Jess’s money goes towards the Starkey Hearing Foundation for Delta Zeta.”

The two make many different variations of masks, most of which focus on the logos and mascots of YSU. Some masks are made for specific organizations, such as a YSU Greek Life mask Jessica made.

They said they have sold masks to mostly YSU students, but some alumni have placed orders, including one from North Carolina.

“We’ve probably raised a couple hundred dollars total,” Jessica Neral said. “And made about 70 masks, give or take a few.”

Jessica and Samantha Neral aren’t the only ones on campus working hard to make a difference.

Jessica Neral models a mask she created with her sister Samantha Neral to raise money for the Starkey Hearing Foundation. Photo courtesy of Jessica Neral

Sally Frederick, another YSU student, has been making masks that she sells for $5. The money made from the sales helps provide masks for veterans.

“We have made over 800 masks and donated about half of those to the VA [Department of Veteran Affairs] for homeless veterans,” Frederick said. “And to people when we see them without, and we have been donating some to our local cat shelter.”

Frederick also elaborated on the mental strain of the pandemic and how making masks has given her something to do.

“I’ve been making the masks with my mother as a way to avoid despairing over the pandemic and a way to help out,” she said.

Her masks brandish the YSU logos and Pete the Penguin, with most of her sales coming from YSU students and parents of students.

Jessica Neral, Samantha Neral and Frederick have used the new guidelines as an opportunity to make fashionable masks for good causes. Currently, they all still have masks for sale, available on the YSU app.

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