Piedmont students donate over $7,500 worth of masks to kids in Oakland

(From left to right) Matteo Scanu, John Champion, and Daniel Banin

Fifty-five dollars. That figure may not seem large, but it’s what it costs to provide two children with a set of N95 or KN95 masks for a school month. Prior to the pandemic, many families in the Bay Area were struggling financially. Add with the burden of COVID and rising food prices, for many families finding $55 to send their kids to school safely has become a challenge. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, cloth masks cannot protect kids from the highly infectious omicron variant. Disposable masks like N95 or KN95 masks are necessary as they offer the “highest level of protection.”

Realizing that the switch from cloth to disposable masks would further increase the financial burden for already struggling families, and that being safe is a right of every child, Piedmont High School sophomore Daniel Banin organized a collection effort in December to donate masks for those in need.

Earlier this month, over 7,500 masks collected from the three Piedmont elementary schools and from individual members of the Piedmont community were donated to Garfield Elementary School in Oakland, a school where 92% of the students come from low-income households. 

The donation was made possible by collaborating with Garfield Assistant Principal Katherine Hendon and teacher Heather Birks.

“I am very thankful to the Piedmont community and look forward to working with these schools in the future,” said Hendon. “I used this donation as a teaching moment for the students at our school. I had each student take 10 masks to donate them around the neighborhood so that they too could understand the value and importance of donating and supporting people in need,” said Hendon. 

With the active sponsorship of Principal Anne Dolid, Havens led the way collecting over 5,000 masks. “I am incredibly happy to have given my students the opportunity to make a difference,” said Dolid. 

Daniel recruited friends and PHS sophomores Matteo Scanu and John Champion to help in this effort.  

“I am grateful to have gotten the opportunity to help many people and am thankful to the entire Piedmont community that has once again come together behind a common cause,” said Banin. 

Banin and Hendon are exploring future methods of collaboration to bring the two communities closer together.

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