SAN ANGELO, Texas — Almost all Texans are now required by an executive order from Governor Greg Abbott to wear masks in public spaces. Two Concho Valley high school seniors are now working to make face masks available for people who need them, along with information about slowing the spread of COVID-19.
“Seeing that there’s a need for this in our community, Hayden seeing that and jumping into it, it’s been incredible. Everyone is so excited to be involved with this,” said Natalie Dragt.
High school seniors Hayden Best and Natalie Dragt are working to make face masks available for people who need them, along with information about the benefits of wearing a mask during the coronavirus outbreak.
“Two of the most manageable factors that we can mitigate in terms of the spread of this virus are the financial inability of people to pay for the masks (right now they’re being priced exorbitantly on places like Facebook Marketplace) and I have a lot of friends that don’t have a well-rounded understanding of the way the virus works and how to prevent the spread. The ways we can help is by providing reusable cotton masks and pamphlets targeted at kids and adults (printed in English and Spanish) that outline how you can keep yourself and others safe during this time that we need to be watching out for one another,” said Hayden Best.
Hayden, who attends school at the Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts and is home for the summer, said he wanted to spend his time reaching out to his community to stop the spread of the virus. Shortly after, he connected with Natalie (a high school senior from Wall, TX) and the two have since been hard at work fundraising for the project.
The students are focusing on children in the ‘Kids Eat FREE’ summer meal program, seniors who receive meals from “Meals for the Elderly,” and those who receive meals from San Angelo’s Wesley Soup Kitchen.
“These masks are reusable up to 16 times and they’re washable so you can use them over and over again, which is really the goal. The hope is to protect people for as long as possible,” explained Hayden.
Since the students began this initiative two weeks ago, they’ve raised over $600. The two are planning to make their first deliveries this week and hope to reach as many individuals as possible. Over 1,000 children are in the ‘Kids Eat FREE’ program and over 750 seniors receive meals from “Meals for the Elderly.”
“That money is already gone. We have 150 masks at my house that will be packaged this afternoon. The crayons cost about 50 cents per box, the pamphlets’ printing costs have been donated by a local business and the bags are about 2 cents. The biggest expense are the masks,” added Hayden.
Hayden and Natalie have been in communication with the programs they are partnering with to ensure they deliver all of the masks necessary.
“He told me he was a senior in high school but he did not sound like a senior in high school at all. It was obvious he had thought through this project a lot. I was very impressed with him and impressed that they would take on an initiative that didn’t have to do with stuff that most high school seniors were interested in during the summer,” said Mary Herbert, Regional Director for the Texas Hunger Initiative, which coordinates the ‘Kids Eat FREE’ program, “It is a way to help the health and well-being of our clients. That’s how the coalition works. We all work together for the benefit of our community.”
The ‘Kids Eat FREE’ summer meal program will be going on for the next three weeks until students go back to school. While that will be the end of their service to that program, Hayden and Natalie said they hope to continue to offer help to those community members who need it.
“The ‘Meals for the Elderly’ program and Wesley Soup Kitchen go on year-long. The hope is to continue working with them for as long as we have the funding to do so. We work entirely off of donations so as long as those keep coming in, we hope to continue our service,” continued Hayden.
A GoFundMe has been set up for those who would like to donate to Hayden and Natalie’s cause. Click here to donate.
“It’s about 3 dollars per person to put together one of these packets, so for $9 you can serve 3 different community members in need,” added Hayden.