Masks and Me
What started as Easter gifts for her family, turned into so much more. See how Alessia is putting her sewing skills to the test and helping people protect themselves with her initiative.
What is your name and what year did you graduate from De La Salle?
My name is Alessia Panzica, and I graduated from DEL in 2019.
What is your current field of study/area of work?
I am a student at Queen's University, pursuing a double degree in Mathematics Engineering and Computer Science.
How did the idea for your initiative arise?
I taught myself how to sew around four years ago, and this year I decided to use this skill to sew facemasks for my family members to give to them as gifts for Easter. All my family members loved them and suggested I make more for extended family and friends. Soon after that, I received requests from people all around the GTA. This began my journey with Masks & Me, a platform I could use to raise money for COVID-19 relief efforts. Each face mask is layered with four sheets of 100% cotton material, a metal nose piece, and elastic ear straps for adjustability and comfort. This initiative serves as a way to encourage people to wear masks as protection during these times of social distancing. We are now about three weeks into the initiative, and not only has it been so busy, everyone in both the DEL and home communities has been very supportive.
What has the response been like?
The response has been nothing but positive. Many individuals, including family, friends and fellow community members, have supported our cause and appreciate the effort we have put in. There have been many orders to fill, and we could not be happier! In addition to moving high-volume requests, we have also received plenty of positive feedback regarding the quality of our masks, and the love for the initiative!
How are your family and friends coping with the current situation?
During these difficult times of staying home and social distancing, it has been refreshing to have my entire family back under one roof to reconnect. I have been kept fairly busy with ongoing school work and operating my entrepreneurial venture. Hopefully, once things start to slow down, it'll be nice to begin developing new hobbies and trying things never done before. My family has been very serious when it comes to social distancing, so it hasn't been easy being away from them and friends during birthdays, holidays, and other special events. Luckily, we have been making it work using Zoom calls and even postcards to help maintain family morale.
How did your experience at DEL help inspire your initiative?
DEL always taught me to persevere and work hard for what I believed in. The workload at the College was often very difficult and challenging. As a university student looking back, I have realized that these challenges only benefited me in the end. It taught me a great deal about pursuing ambitions I enjoy, which ultimately inspired my idea to combine my passion for sewing and my love for supporting good causes.
What are some of the things you miss most about DEL?
In addition to missing high school friends, I especially miss all of the extra-curricular activities offered at DEL, specifically: Student Council, Robotics Team, and Theatre De La Salle. Theatre De La Salle was such a fantastic way to express myself and not be judged for doing so. That was always the place where I felt the most comfortable and the most authentic. I encourage everyone who likes theatre or looking into extra-curriculars to take a look at getting involved, whether it be performing, crew, makeup, etc. The memories made with Mr. Luchka and the rest of the crew remain with you forever!
How can our alumni support your initiative?
Alumni can continue to show their support by following and sharing our content via Instagram @masksandme and Linkedln at www.linkedin.com/company/masks-me to help spread the word that we are helping fight this battle against COVID-19 one mask at a time!