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Vera Bradley churning out face masks, other wearables in response to COVID-19

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Workers at Vera Bradley shift their attention from the usual product line to protective masks and other health gear

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - "Vera Bradley" isn't a name much associated with health care, but with the COVID-19 outbreak putting a strain on suppliers globally, the locally based company is stepping in to help fill a need.

Workers are putting their skills to use producing face masks and "wearables" for doctors, nurses and others who are interacting with patients.

The company's CEO, Robert Wallstrom, said during these difficult times, it helps to have a little hope.

"I think people are looking for something bright right now. I mean, everything everybody's fighting through, people need to smile and have a little degree of thoughtfulness… which we think is perfect," Wallstrom said.

He said he's spoken with hospitals to understand how to make the masks they need.

"I was working with our sample room and they have worked on the function of these masks so that they're comfortable, they're the perfect size, they've been going through prototypes so they're not just throwing something together they're actually spending a lot of time thinking about it and doing it right," Wallstrom said.

The company itself has been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak as well. Earlier this month, it rescheduled the 2020 Vera Bradley annual outlet sale for 2021. Despite that setback, they're happy to help.

"Whether it's our employees, whether it's the company or the people in the community, I think all of us want to do something. It's so much easier to get through a crisis when you're actually actinf. It's so much harder sitting in your house watching it happen," Wallstrom said.

In a message posted to the company Facebook page, Vera Bradley said: "We're so thankful for the many courageous people serving our communities around the world, and we would love to help with this urgent need."

Jonathan Shelley

Jonathan Shelley is the news director at WPTA TV, which he joined in 2016 following nine years in a similar role in New Orleans and previous news management positions in Oklahoma City and Las Vegas.

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