Springfield woman honors COVID-19 victims through origami


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Since the start of the pandemic, the The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) says 55,867 people in Greene County have tested positive for COVID-19. 843 people in the region died. Whether or not someone succeeds in their battle, Anne Egbert in Springfield uses arts and crafts to honor them.

OzarksFirst spoke with a woman from United Way of the Ozarks who says Egbert gave her a gift she will never forget.

In September 2021, Liz Wertz received an origami crane from Egbert. It was a way of honoring his late father in 2020. Wertz tells OzarksFirst that the crane is meant to be a sign of bravery and never giving up.

“I hung it in my office in memory of him,” Wertz said. “I smile every time I look at it.”

Wertz lost his father to COVID-19 when he was just 52 years old.

“I was definitely daddy’s girl,” Wertz said. “He had a lasting impact on my life. It’s been really hard to go through great times and not have him here.

Egbert met Wertz when she volunteered at United Way. Finally, she told him about her creative tribute to the victims of COVID.

“It’s a sign of courage and perseverance through great odds,” Egbert said. “That’s what they went through. The person who died from COVID is a wrong way to die. This should be honored in a positive way. Not just in grief, but in something you could cling to.

His passion for making origami cranes comes from a children’s book titled “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.” The story is about a young Japanese girl named Sadako who contracted leukemia from the Hiroshima atomic bomb. The story mentions a Japanese legend that says anyone who made a thousand origami cranes would be cured. Sadako tried and died before making about 700. After his death, his friends got together to make the remaining 300.

“I was working in COVID when it started and it was desperate,” Egbert said. “We couldn’t test people. You had to send them to the CDC. It seemed to me that we were going through this difficulty that we had not asked for. It took courage and perseverance. It was similar to what happened to atomic bomb survivors. That’s why I started making cranes. If I do them in a way that represents that person, it’s a beautiful gift for them, but a painful gift.

Egbert has made a patriotic crane for Wertz since his father served in the Coast Guard.

“It means the world,” Wertz said. “My father was really passionate about his country. Being able to watch this in memory of him every day motivates me. I suspended it because it reminds me that he always looks down on me. I think he would really appreciate it.

Egbert tells OzarksFirst that she can make a small crane in about 15 minutes. She has made more than 1,000 paper cranes. Egbert says she would like to do more for anyone who has lost a loved one to COVID-19, or for those who have a family member or friend going through an intense battle.

If you would like to request a crane, email [email protected]


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