Education

Masks for Students, started by Riverhead moms, makes donation to district schools

Who better to understand the needs of our youth than parents and teachers?

In Riverhead, a trio of moms, based on feedback from teachers, spent part of Tuesday morning visiting schools in the district donating more than 2,600 masks that will help assure students in the district have clean facial coverings available throughout the school year.

“In Riverhead we are often divided, but there are so many people who came together to make a difference for kids,” said Diane Tucci, a mom of two high school students, who helped lead the initiative.

Ms. Tucci, a PTSO co-vice president who also runs Main Street Agency, a local marketing firm, formed Masks for Students after speaking with parents and teachers in the area about the needs of children attending Riverhead schools.

She said she learned sometimes kids were showing up at school without a facial covering or with masks that could use a cleaning. She hopes that by making the donations, those needs will be met.

“Especially for economically disadvantaged families,” she said.

Ms. Tucci was joined in the effort by Riverhead High School PTSO President Mary Maki, a mother of two high school seniors, and Riverhead Middle School PTO President Stephanie Burns, a mom of three, to donate the masks, which include washable cloth coverings with nice designs.

“Parents and teachers have enough to worry about,” Ms. Tucci said. “We want our kids to be safe and comfortable and realize this is going to be an ongoing need throughout the school year.” 

Keri Stromski, a kindergarten teacher at Aquebogue Elementary School, helped provide some of the feedback to get the program off the ground. She said she worried some kids would have special masks with designs that “could make [other] children feel bad about the type of masks they had.

“Being able to have all of the children have a special mask with designs, made for them by community members, not only helps them feel excited about the masks, but also lets them know that people care about them and their feelings,” Ms. Stromski said in a press release. “This has been challenging for everyone, and to make a child feel special and loved is always a good thing.”

Ms. Tucci said more than 60 local residents have contributed to the effort so far and they have an ongoing GoFundMe page set up with a goal of raising $5,000 to purchase 10,000 masks.

Local resident Marilyn Banks Winter was among those who helped out in the effort.

“As a mother, grandmother and neighbor, keeping the most vulnerable safe is near and dear to my heart,” the long-time community activist said in a press release. “I felt in a small way I would help by pulling together those who have been making masks and those who would be able to donate. Our community joined together for our students and formed a committee of 63 willing hands of love.”

Those interested in supporting Masks for Students can do so through the Masks for Students page on GoFundMe or drop off masks at Riverhead Vacuum Sewing Center at 31 East Main Street in Riverhead. Materials and supplies are also available for those willing to sew.