Pearland-area students balance school with mask-making

The Three MASK-eteers are one of the student-led groups making masks for the community. (Courtesy Rep. Pete Olson's office; design by Elyssa Turner/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Three MASK-eteers are one of the student-led groups making masks for the community. (Courtesy Rep. Pete Olson's office; design by Elyssa Turner/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Three MASK-eteers are one of the student-led groups making masks for the community. (Courtesy Rep. Pete Olson's office; design by Elyssa Turner/Community Impact Newspaper)

Students around the Pearland and Friendswood area have been making masks to donate. Some groups balanced mask-making with school during the school year and are planning on continuing to make them over the summer as well.

The IWillMask campaign has made 50-100 as an organization, and The Three MASK-eteers made around 100 with the help of a 3D printer before the end of the school year.

Virginia Williams, an 11-year-old student in Brazoria County, has sewn around 115 masks herself. Williams has donated her masks to family and church members as well as to nursing homes, Baylor Scott & White and a lower-income housing complex.

“As a kid, it’s our responsibility to help our parents and our family. Everybody wants to do their part. People want to take care of themselves and their family. I think it’s my turn to help,” Williams said.

As part of their IWillMask campaign, Jessica Williams, Aditya Namjoshi and Vidya Muthupillai host Zoom sessions twice a week to teach people how to make masks out of household item. Around 40-50 people have participated in the six sessions they have offered, Namjoshi said.

“We saw there was a need in the community,” said Jessica, one of the organizers of IWillMask, an organization created by three Dawson High School Students.

The students will continue to hold sessions over the summer for as long as there is interest, they said.

“As Texas opens up, it is very clear people will need masks,” Namjoshi said.

The organization relied on the CDC’s guidelines to know what to make the masks out of, the students said. They made sewn masks for the Veteran’s Hospital and non-sewn masks for the Houston Food bank. They also learned a lot about making masks through trial and error, Jessica said.

Amar Sehgal, Karthik Bhagavatula and Praneel Bhagavatula, or The Three MASK-eteers, make their masks using a 3D printer. The boys, who are students of Pearland and Alvin ISDs, were originally working on a science project together that was canceled due to COVID-19. They decided instead to dedicate their time to making masks.

“My mom is a pediatrician and is really worried about the lack of PPE for hospitals,” Sehgal said.

The students took around two weeks to develop the masks. One of the things they said they noticed is that vacuum bags have a similar pore size to N95 masks, allowing people to breathe while still keeping the mouth and nose covered.

At first, the students' parents helped buy their 3D printer and supplies, since the students had originally thought this would be a small-scale project, they said. Now, they use donations to buy their supplies, Praneel said. The masks are for anyone, but the students have a system prioritizing immunocompromised and high-risk individuals.

The Three MASK-eteers were honored by Rep. Pete Olson, R-Houston, for their work on the masks, which was a huge honor, the students said.

Since they were recognized by the congressman and on ABC13, the students have received an influx of requests for masks, Karthik said. They will continue to make masks as long as they get requests, they said.

Being recognized by Rep. Olson was exciting, but the best reward has been to help people by spending more time with each other, Sehgal said.

“We were already good friends, but it’s an unbreakable bond. We’re The Three MASK-eteers, and our slogan is ‘All for one and one for all,’” he said. “I think that’s a good representation of our relationship.”
By Haley Morrison
Haley Morrison came to Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after graduating from Baylor University. She was promoted to editor in February 2019. Haley primarily covers city government.


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