It’s the accessory everyone’s wearing this fall, and not because it’s the hottest new fashion.
Local ordinances throughout Florida have made face coverings mandatory, and some creative Wesley Chapel kids have found a way to turn people’s need for masks into an opportunity to do good.
In The Lakes at Northwood neighborhood, located just off County Line Rd. and Bruce B. Downs Blvd., the Burnett, Caruso, Peretsky and White families have 10 kids between them, ages 5-13. They often play together outside.
When the pandemic hit, the kids started talking to each other about doing something helpful in their community.
“They wanted to be able to help other kids, in light of what was going on with Covid-19,” says Katie Burnett, who is mom to Jackson, Mackenzie and Alaina.
Katie says her kids – along with Diana, Ellina and David Peretsky, Mason, Kate and Troy Caruso and Josiah White — came up with the idea to raise money and donate it to St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa.
They started with a lemonade stand. The idea grew when Katie and her husband Matt, who own Kona Ice Wesley Chapel, received a box of plain, white, reusable cloth masks to share with the community.
That’s when the kids decided to sell not only lemonade, but individually designed masks, too.
They took their revenue from that first lemonade stand and bought a tie-dye kit. Then, they got to work making fun summer art, using dozens of the masks as their canvases.
Their parents spread the word on social media, and then the kids took turns selling the masks on Saturdays in their neighborhood.
Late this summer, they tallied up their earnings and were able to make a $350 donation to St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. Parent company BayCare Health System’s senior vice president & Hillsborough County market leader Kimberly Guy stopped by the neighborhood and the families presented her with an oversized check — also made by the kids.
“They got really excited when Kim told them the money would be used to buy toys for kids at the hospital,” says Katie. “That helped make it real for them.”