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Love Grows On Trees (05/02/20)

(Above photo) Masks located on the “Christmas” tree in Veterans’ Park.

There is an old saying, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” But if you’re driving through Clarion and take notice of the big pine tree (the one that is always decorated for Christmas), next to the Persian Gulf Memorial in Veterans’ Park, you will notice that “Love grows on trees.”

“Decorating” the tree are dozens of masks. Sixty-five were placed there on Saturday morning, May 2nd and are there, free for the taking, for anyone who needs one, during the COVID-19 crisis.

Kyleigh with local reporter Ron Wilshire who was also there to cover the story. Ron is an Army veteran.

The masks are a “mission” of Kyleigh Craddock, daughter of Will and Kendra Craddock.

Kyleigh, along with her mother, has been making the masks at Kyleigh’s Sage Soldier Headbands business. The inspiration for the Sage Soldier name comes from Kyleigh’s serving in the Army National Guard, which she joined 2019, while just getting home from Basic Training and her love for the color sage.

Kyleigh has donated masks around our community, to the Clarion Hospital, pharmacists, nurses, nursing home staff, local small businesses and families. To this point, she and her mother have made roughly 500 masks, during this labor of love.

Kyleigh mentioned that the masks have been in production since April 2nd. She estimates that it takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete one mask. Figuring on a typical 40 hour work week, that would work out to somewhere between two to three weeks of work on the masks.

Kyleigh said, “Luckily, I’ve had my mom to help me with the various aspects, so that has made it go a little bit smoother. But, it’s taken a while.”

Christy, Kyleigh and Kendra with masks

This has also been a mission of love for others around the area, as well. “I would just like to give a huge thank you to everyone who donated their money, their fabric and their hair ties and just all the materials that I needed to make masks. Because, without them, this would not have been possible at all.

“It has been such a struggle to even find cotton fabric anywhere and to find the hair ties and the materials to make the masks. But luckily, I have some amazing people out there, who were able to find it for me. And I have been able keep this operation running.”

Some of those who have helped with the project are the Lewis family, the Acey family, the Woodruff family, the Greeley family, Michelle’s Cafe, Beth Albaugh, the Vega family, the County Seat Restaurant, the Sherbine family, the Cyphert family, Sammi Beichner and many more.

Each of the masks comes with an instruction sheet.

Kyleigh plans on checking the tree daily to see how many masks are left. And on Saturday, May 9th, the day the Clarion Farmers’ Market is scheduled to open across Main Street, she plans to restock the tree, depending on how her supply of materials holds up.

Then, at the end of May, Kyleigh, who is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, with a minor in Nutrition and Fitness at Clarion University, and a Private First Class in the Guard, will be heading to Fort Lee, Virginia, for Advanced Individual Training.

Assistant County Solicitor, Christy Logue, who helped secure permision to place the masks said, “I know the commissioners very well. So, I called Ted Tharan and pitched the idea to him and he liked it. We went through the approval process and he helped us with that as well. They got it and the commissioners voted on it. So we were able to do this.”

Asked if it was satisfying to be part of this project, Christy said, “Yeah, it is. But it is really about Kyleigh. I’ve known Kyleigh since she was little. I used to work at Michelle’s with Kendra. Now Kendra works for me. And (Kyleigh’s) always been a great kid that you can put a lot of trust in and is very professional.”

Kendra said this about her daughter, “I’m really proud of her. She’s always been somebody to help out in the community. Anytime somebody asks her to do something, she’s always the first one to volunteer. I’m proud of her because this is who she is.

“She is someone who was always, always ready to serve her country, her community, our church (First United Methodist Church in Clarion). Kyleigh dropped off about twenty masks there, for church members to just be able to stop by (and pick up) at any time. Her dad and a are just really proud of her.”

National Guardsman Kyleigh Craddock

Thank you to Kyleigh, Kendra, Christy, the Clarion County Commissioners and to all who have contributed to this great cause!!!!

And remember, if you need a mask, just stop by the “Tree Where Love Grows,” in Veterans’ Park across from the Courthouse.