Lily Montes | Photo courtesy SISD

Helen Ball Elementary student makes face masks to help community

Helen Ball Elementary School fourth grader Lily Montes and her mother are spending their spare time during the district closure making medical masks to donate to those who need them most.

“She saw a lot of people, who need them, left without masks because of the current situation,” said Elizabeth Montes, Lily’s mother. “She asked me to help her sew some masks for her friends who work at the hospital.”

Lily’s own medical condition, which has required her to wear medical masks since she was a small child, led her to understand the gravity of the mask shortage. It inspired her to make and donate the masks.

“I’m very happy and I enjoy making the masks because I find it relaxing,” Lily said.

The pair, who is making the masks for free, has made more than 500 masks in a two-week period, working on two sewing machines and putting in seven to 10 hours a day.

They recently received authorization to donate masks to The Hospitals of Providence, which will go to those serving in the emergency room. They have been taking orders for other area hospitals, clinics, fire departments, and those who are elderly or immunocompromised.

The team also has donated masks out of state to locations in California, South Dakota and Virginia.

“I feel very happy that we are helping people, and that they like them and are using them,” Lily said.

Photo courtesy SISD

Alexandra Castillo, Lily’s fourth-grade teacher at Helen Ball, isn’t surprised by her student’s selfless mission to help the community. Lilyalways has had a lot of heart and determination, she said.

“She is the kindest, sweetest student ever,” Castillo said. “She is so sweet to everyone, helps everyone who needs it, and always has a bright smile.”

Elizabeth Montes said they have been getting so many pictures and messages of gratitude that they don’t have time to open all of them, but they appreciate the kind gestures.

“We will keep going until there are no more requests,” she said. “As long as the need is there we are going to continue.”

All masks are made from 100 percent cotton, with a special filter included for those on the front lines who need the extra protection. Elizabeth Montes has spent about $150 out of pocket on the material, and she recently received a material donation from Walmart.

Lily and her mother are happy their efforts are helping and plan to continue in this time of uncertainty.

“I feel very good to be contributing to the world and helping others in need,” Lily said. “I hope others will do the same.”