KEYSER- During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have stepped up to the plate to help their community; some of them by making masks to help those in need protect themselves.

By Barbara High
bhigh@newstribune.info
Tribune Staff Writer
KEYSER- During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have stepped up to the plate to help their community; some of them by making masks to help those in need protect themselves.
With some states, including Maryland, requiring masks for any person entering a store, many people are finding them hard to find.
Wirth a community in need, many local heroes have stepped up to answer the call.
For Missy Yvonne Fazenbaker, it was just the right thing to do. With her fingers sore and bandaged, Missy continues to make mask for those in need. She has made 500 masks so far, with 400 having been donated so far.
Missy recently began to ask for $4 a piece to help cover the cost of supplies, as her materials began to wear low.
“I had used everything I had,” she said.
When asked why she took on this project, her answer was simple: “It was needed to keep people safe.”
Missy said her whole life has been taking care of others; it is just what she does. “It takes a whole village sometimes to get things done. I am really proud of how we have come together  to accomplish what we have.” Missy had a gofundme page set up to buy supplies, which she has shared with other mask makers. “We bought fabric, and ordered 200 yards of elastic,” she said.
“My hands are so sore and I am tired, but it is a good tired,” Missy said. “Because you know you are doing something that needs to be done.”
Missy makes masks in both adult and kid sizes. She made 150 masks for the employees of Lavale’s WalMart, and in return received a card signed by the employees whioch read, “Your kindness makes such a difference in my life.”
Missy said she had not sewn in years, but now could make a mask in her sleep.
“My motto is it takes a village,” she said. So she says she will continue to sit up until all hours at night, making masks for her village.
Heroes also come in different sizes, and one of the area’s tiniest heroes is 11year-old Aryonna Martin, Miss West Virginia Sixth Grade America 2020.
Aryonna, who already is an ambassador of Comfort Cases, a charitable organizations that provides duffle bags and supplies to children in the foster care system, is now turning her efforts toward masks for those in need.
With the help of her nanny, Rosalind Martin, who is a quilter, they have made and donated over 300 masks.
Those masks have been donated to social workers, families with children who have medical conditions, fire departments, vet techs, drive thru employees, comfort cases volunteers, Child Protective Services and many more.
Aryonna, who usually focuses on Comfort Cases, said she realized quickly that this pandemic was affecting her entire family. Her brother is a firefighter and an EMT, her sister is a vet tech, and her aunt is a CPS worker.
She then decided that her and her nanny had a job to do  and set out to make their masks of love.
Aryonna said she makes her masks like other mask makers, but she is making her masks with “love.”  Her mother, Michelle Taylor, said the masks are homemade by a child with a huge heart.
Aryonna is no stranger to community service and she has come to realize the importance of the work  done by Child Protective Services and social workers. She wanted to make sure they were protected so they could continue to do their jobs helping children.
“I am very blessed to be able to give back to my community in this time of need,” she said. “Life is a beautiful thing when you give from the heart.”
Mask are are still being made daily by Aryonna and her nanny, and given to those in need. Many have reciprocated  the donation by donating to her charity Comfort Cases.
Although all these local heroes are rockstars, some reach platinum rockstar status. Two names really stand out when it comes to making masks for their community.
Darla Shaw and her daughter Kristi Downey has made 2,451 masks and donated them so far. Their masks have been donated to home healthcare workers, hospitals, cancer centers, fire departments, doctor offices, dentists, respiratory therapists, and many other organizations. They have masks going to Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and of course many locally, including Potomac Valley Hospital, New Creek and Fountain volunteer fire departments, Keyser EMS, Keyser Walmart Pharmacy, Moorefield Food Lion, American Woodmark in Lavale, and Winchester hospitals. They even made  masks for the workers and patients at the Schwab Cancer Center in Cumberland.
Kristi said their adventure began when COVID-19 hit and her mother saw where there was going to be a mask shortage.
“My mother saw an article that said anyone who could sew, if they would make 25 mask they would help their community,” Kristi said. Darla wanted to help, so she made her 25 masks. The masks went quickly to those in the area in need, and Darla saw the need was bigger. So she set out to make more, and even recruited help. Kristi said she had never even sewn before until her mother said it was time to learn. They even recruited Kristi’s 10-year-old daughter Taylor Downey; teaching her to sew masks.
Kristi’s sisters, Jennifer Mc Greevy and Heather Warnick, have also been special angels when it comes to helping them sew masks.
“Sometimes we have several sewing machines running at once,” said Kristi. And although she said their backs and tail bones are sore, production continues.
“We have gone through 500 yards of cotton materials, four sewing machines, over 80 spools of threads, and I have no idea how much elastic,” she said. “We were going through 50 yards of elastic per day.”
When asked why, the answer was simple: People need masks.
“I volunteered to help my mom for just a few days,” Kristi said. “Once you start, how can you stop? There is such a need.”
The masks they make are four ply and follow the CDC guidelines. It takes a lot of material and supplies. They ran through Darla’s stockpile quickly and then they began to buy more supplies.
“It is quite the production,” said Kristi.
They started an Amazon wish list, and even received monetary donations for them to go to local stores and buy supplies. “The support has been amazing," said Kristi.
All of their masks made are 100 percent donated. “We have even used elastic headbands when we ran out of elastic,” said Kristi.
News of their masks has been spread far and wide. As they make masks for hospitals and nurses locally, many of them share it to their Facebook pages. Then their fellow nurses sees them and contact Kristi.
“I had an order for 400 for St Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, Md,” said Kristi. They have even been contacted by healthcare workers in Florida.
“We give to people needing three or four, and we supply those needing 500,” said Kristi. And there is no sign of them slowing down anytime soon. As long as there is a need, we are going to continue,” said Kristi. “We are in it for the long run.”
There are more orders coming in for masks daily and this group still continues their amazing work. If anyone or organization is in need of mask they may contact Kristi Downey on Facebook. Anyone wanting to help them continue to help those in need and our healthcare workers can visit their Amazon wish list for supplies they need purchased or give a monetary donation by Contacting Kristi Downey on Facebook.


The Mineral Daily News Tribune would like to thank these local heroes and others who are stepping up at this time to help their community. If you know someone that you would like to recognize for their community service during this pandemic, please contact the News Tribune at newsroom@newstribune.info with “Heroes” in the subject line. We would like to recognize and thank all our local heroes!