High Schoolers for Front Liners
By: Jonathan Wu, Jessica Lin (McLean, VA), Jessica Lin (Churchill, MD)
“I really hope that this can grow and help as many people as possible. It's super heartwarming to go to detention facilities or hospitals." - Allison Moon, founder of HSFL
During the COVID-19 pandemic, communities around the world continue to rally together to battle the crippling and deadly disease. One program called High Schoolers for Front Liners (HSFL), supports front line workers by donating masks. We were able to speak to Allison Moon, the founder of HSFL, on the origin and goals of her project.
Allison is a rising junior at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland. She started HSFL with the mission to donate masks to hospitals, but has since expanded to detention centers and prisons across Maryland.
The idea for HSFL first developed in March when Allison’s family found they did not have enough masks due to the lack of PPE around the world. While researching ways to create her own, Allison stumbled across an article detailing the mask shortage frontline workers and responders face. From her discovery, she decided to take action and began sewing masks for healthcare providers and other essential workers in her community.
High Schools for Frontliners has donated over 3000 masks so far, with an additional output of around 400 masks every week. These handmade masks have gone to various facilities, including the Doctors Community Hospital, the Maryland Veterans Affairs Health System, and various correctional facilities throughout Maryland. Allison believes the deliveries make the hard work worth it, because “[when] [they] see the response from the nurses who come outside to meet [them], it's really really heartwarming”.
With a group of only 40 student volunteers, ensuring weekly output is a challenge. First, behind-the-scenes volunteers have to contact and find facilities across the state in need of masks. Then, the actual mask-making process starts with Allison buying the fabric and elastic at JOANN’s, a crafts and fabric store. Next, the students come by her garage to pick up the materials and cut them to the right sizes before returning them to Allison. She then sends the prepared supplies to volunteers who sew the masks together. From there, the finished masks are again returned to Allison’s house, where a designated driver picks them up and delivers them to the necessary facilities.
Although Allison started this project by paying out of pocket, HSFL eventually grew to the point where it needed additional funding. Allison decided to use Kickstarter, a public funding platform, to sustain the output of masks and spread the word about her cause. Within a week, HSFL reached its original goal of $1,000. Since then, the Kickstarter raised $5,000, which allowed HSFL to expand its resources. Allison believes that the momentum will be able to carry them to their new goal of $20,000, which will contribute to the start of a long-lasting charity. Allison posts all of her receipts and other processes on Kickstarter to be fully transparent with her donors.
From this experience, Allison has learned “to appreciate everybody who's
around [her], because [she] honestly didn't expect so many people to join”.
By sharing her story, Allison hopes to spread awareness about the many ways others can contribute to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I know that there's a lot, a lot of students and a lot of people in general who want to give back to the medical community or local facilities like detention centers, but they just don't know how… there's a lot of opportunities to do [so],” Allison said. HSFL aims to protect the lives of frontline workers, so even donating a few masks can make a big difference.
Although the group has been successful with making and donating masks, a major issue HSFL encounters is a lack of management. “There's a lot of things that I have to manage like writing emails, making sure that [we] hit the target goal, asking people to get the masks done on time, or organizing everything as a whole, [so it] has been difficult”.
To help alleviate this problem, Allison has implemented biweekly meetings with the team to share news and address and solve any issues or conflicts. She is also recruiting people for leadership positions to help organize the logistics of her program.
HSFL’s overarching goal is to “spread awareness on this project to try and gather as many volunteers as possible. But, [Allison] would also like to make this a legitimate charity and leave a long-lasting impact for the entire community”.
“I really hope that this can grow and help as many people as possible. It's super heartwarming to go to detention facilities or hospitals… The people are so appreciative and I hope that the volunteers know how thankful I am for them”.
If you would like to support this cause, please consider donating to their Kickstarter:
If you are in Maryland and would like to help, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Instagram and Twitter: Students4frontline
Facebook: High Schoolers for Front Liners