Nancy Wasen

ASHLAND -- Amid a challenging year, one Ashland woman says she found hope in helping others. 

Nancy Wasen recently collected items for a local family's Christmas and volunteered with the local Catholic Charities' Safe Boxes for Seniors Program. 

"It's been a really crummy year in a lot of ways, but in doing good things, I think it's helped us endure this bad year," Wasen said. "It can't rob you of everything. It can't rob you of a good heart."

Wasen's life today is much different than it was last year when she attended concerts and regularly visited friends. She was always going somewhere or doing something. 

In March, she learned of the pandemic, and by April, she lost her job because of it. Her vibrant social life also came to a halt, as Wasen stayed home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

"I am a person who loves being around people, so not being able to work, not being able to go out to eat with my friends and not being able to listen to rock and roll music with my friends was bothering me," she said. "I could go out for a walk, but I couldn't do the things that most drive my life." 

She settled into the summertime with socially-distanced front porch visits from friends, but when colder weather came, she looked for other ways to stay occupied. 

"I've always tried to look for the helpers," Wasen said. 

When she learned Ashland's Catholic Charities was seeking help for its Safe Boxes for Seniors Program, she said she felt inclined to help. The organization would collect items and deliver 200 boxes to people across Ashland County. 

Later, she discovered the family in need of help to make Christmas special for their children. 

"I thought, these are things I can do, and I can do safely," Wasen said. 

She called friends, neighbors and businesses to organize the collection of hundreds of items and donations for both projects. 

Her dentist gave mini toothbrushes and toothpaste. A friend knitted matching scarves and hats. Others simply gave money to purchase essentials. 

"I love to be around people, so talking to the people that donated, that was a real bonus," Wasen said.

When collecting items and donations for a local family's Christmas, she took a similar approach. 

"I'm a big believer that people want to give and will if they are asked," Wasen said. 

"This year, it's like life slowed down, so you saw things differently, saw things you maybe didn't see before. People need to hang in there a little longer and be kind." 

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