High school seniors usually spend the spring months celebrating their accomplishments with events like prom and graduation. But the coronavirus changed these plans—making celebratory gatherings unsafe. Although her senior year is not going as planned, Newton South High School senior Izzy Klein has found a way to share her creativity and support her community. In April, Klein launched Masks by Izzy to provide hand sewn masks for protection against the coronavirus, while donating half of the proceeds to the Greater Boston Food Bank.
Masks by Izzy made its first donation of $500 to the Greater Boston Food Bank on May 8. This money was raised in two weeks.
The Greater Boston Food Bank is a hunger-relief organization that works to provide meals to those in need. In 2019, the Greater Boston Food Bank donated over 68 million pounds of food to those in need in Eastern Massachusetts. The food bank has seen a 50 percent increase in demand due to the increase of layoffs and furloughs during the pandemic. The food bank has donated 8 million pounds of food this March, according to The Boston Globe.
“I saw a need in my community for masks that were accessible and affordable, so I purchased a bunch of fabric and got to work,” Klein said. “And I decided that I wanted to use this to benefit a charity that’s really active in my community.”
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued an order on May 1 requiring face masks or cloth face coverings be worn in public when following social distancing guidelines is not possible. Baker has discouraged the use of health care worker masks, such as N95 masks, since these masks should be preserved for health care workers.
Klein first began accepting orders through text messages and JotForm. She said she received a larger response that she was not expecting, with about 50 people ordering masks in one day. Since Klein was receiving a high volume of orders, organizing the orders became difficult. Using her passion for graphic design, Klein created a website for customers to place their orders.
Klein has masks available in men’s, women’s, and children’s sizes and in 28 colors. Men’s and women’s masks are available for $12 and children’s masks are available for $10.
“Wearing masks signifies a public health crisis, and I think that the fun colors and the vibrancy of the patterns gives people a little flair and an opportunity to express themselves,” Klein said.
Masks are available for pickup, drop-off, and delivery. Free delivery is offered to those in Newton, Needham, or Wellesley. Customers are notified of a time window to pick up their mask or a time window for drop-off in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Masks by Izzy ensures each mask is machine washed and packaged with gloved hands.
“I think things are so uncertain right now, and it gives people some certainty knowing that they are going to get their masks at this date and time,” Klein said.
Each mask is hand sewn by Klein with 100 percent Kona cotton. One mask takes Klein about five to 10 minutes to make. Klein learned to sew when she was younger, but had not sewn since.
“I’ve been able to share my passion and love for creating things in a way that makes it something people can use in real life,” Klein said. “And I’m really happy to do something that’s keeping people safe and also giving back to the Greater Boston Food Bank.”
Masks by Izzy is a family operation—her parents and brother help with the packaging and delivery of masks.
“As a high school senior, I definitely feel uncertain about my future, and I know there are people who have different and bigger things that they feel uncertain about, whether it’s food insecurity or being able to maintain a job,” Klein said. “And I want to use something that I love to give back to a cause that’s really important to me.”
Featured Image Courtesy of Izzy Klein/Netta Dror Photography