For Lena Bowers Schoen, helping people is fun.
Lena, a rising third-grader at Della Davidson Elementary School, has spent her time in quarantine making and selling masks to raise money for charities that benefit Oxford. Her first gift was to the Ole Miss Food Bank, which received $350 and handmade, hand-dyed masks from Lena.
“To choose her first place that she wanted to donate to, we just talked about what her concerns were,” Lena’s mother Alex Bowers Schoen said. “Her concerns seemed to be around people getting enough to eat, so we went with the Ole Miss Food Bank.”
Lena makes most of the decisions when it comes to her business. While her mother handles the money and runs the Facebook group for selling the masks, everything else is up to Lena. That includes what items she wants to sell, the colors of the masks and which specific masks they are going to sell on a particular day.
“I think it’s pretty great,” Alex added. “She’s pretty selfless in this. I think it’s also really nice to have a very hands-on project for the summer. It’s also been nice to work with her on running a business and thinking through decisions. It keeps her from getting bored, and she gets to do some art in the process.”
Lena and Alex have sold hundreds of masks over the course of the project, with each of the masks ranging from $3 to $5. Since donating to the Ole Miss Food Bank, they are almost halfway to their next donation goal, which will go to the Lafayette County Food Pantry.
“(My favorite part is) getting the money and giving it to the charity,” Lena said, “And getting thank-you letters back from them.”
According to data from the Ole Miss Food Bank, it has distributed 7,424 meals between March 16 and July 23. In the latter half of the spring semester, the food bank was distributing an average of 426 meals a week. This number is over triple the amount that the bank distributed before the campus shutdown. Though the average has dropped to 287 meals per week during the summer, the food bank estimates that this number will go up once the fall semester begins.
“I was pretty proud that she was doing this,” Alex said. “She’d worked on also making some special masks for (the food bank). So I thought that was nice that she had thought ahead about what they would like. But yeah, I’m just being really proud of her that she was making this happen.”