Vera Loui, 11, of Milpitas, California, a sixth-grader at William Burnett Elementary, has made more than 450 cloth masks since last summer to donate to her school district. As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, Vera heard stories of ordinary people doing so much to help neighbors in need. But “I did not see any mask donations going to families in our school district, so I thought I would start a project, because disadvantaged families have the highest risk of COVID-19,” Vera said. Despite the fact that she didn’t sew, Vera set out to make masks.
She began by watching YouTube videos on how to make cloth masks. Her mother helped her cut and pin the fabric, and then Vera sewed the perimeter, fit nose wires into place, and added adjustable ear straps to each mask. “When I first started making masks, it took a long time to make each one,” she said, but now she can make one in just 26 minutes. After she had completed her first batch, she made arrangements with the head of the district summer free lunch program to supply 300 masks for parents who were picking up food for their children. When school started in the fall, she dropped off another 150 at an elementary school for distribution to teachers, staff, and students. In addition, Vera published a step-by-step tutorial on mask-making to inspire others to help keep themselves and their communities safe.