WCHS teens give back with student-run organizations


Courtesy of Carolina Noguera

Carolina Noguera (far right) with her cousins Elena and Sonia Hupmann all wearing Solidarity Masks. For more information, go to their Instagram @solidarity.masks.

By Olivia Yasharoff, Arts Editor

Toke Ibraheem, a rising junior and Black Lives Matter activist, is one of many WCHS students who, during this time of quarantine and social distancing, have taken it upon themselves to start helping the community in its time of need. From selling baked goods and delivering groceries, to making masks and custom jewelry, these WCHS students are utilizing the internet and the resources they have to do their part. 

Ibraheem has a history of charity work. In the past, Ibraheem has participated in bake sales at her church to raise money in order to make care packages for people who are homeless. Now, Ibraheem, alongside her two sisters Rera, Tara and their cousin Keke Adeyemo, have started their own business, Anything Sweet Co., which sells homemade baked goods and donates proceeds to Feeding America and Black Lives Matter. 

“This idea originated because since we were stuck in quarantine and so many bad things were happening in the world we wanted to start something to help,” Ibraheem said. “From the beginning of quarantine I started baking a lot and I realized I might as well do some good with it.”

Teens Helping Seniors is another student-run organization: founded by Montgomery Blair High School students Dhruv Pai and Matthew Casertano, it is a free, contactless delivery service run by volunteers for those vulnerable to the coronavirus, specifically seniors and the immunocompromised. The organization now has more than 450 members and 21 chapters around the United States and Canada, according to the Teens Helping Seniors website.

WCHS rising juniors Ria and Rohin Garg, volunteers and National Coordinators for Teens Helping Seniors, were inspired to join after seeing seniors grocery shopping in need of assistance. The organization has made 700 deliveries so far, and is always looking for more helpers to be able to reach out to as many people as possible.

“In this current situation, I think that the best way to relieve anxiety is to be generous,” Ria Garg said. “I always believe that being generous and helping others has a reciprocating effect, and will result in a little less stress. The best way to help yourself is to help others.”

WCHS rising junior Carolina Noguera was eating dinner with her family one night and decided to make masks for her cousins and aunts. Today, Solidarity Masks has grown into a nonprofit organization and family project that sells homemade masks and raises money for a different charity each month.

“The first few [masks] were given out for free, but then people wanted to pay us and we knew that during these times there are so many people who need the money more than we do,” Noguera said. “We also decided not to set a fixed price because we wanted to be able to give masks for the people who can’t afford them for their family. This way, donating and how much you donate is optional. We’re lucky that we live in a very generous community, as not a single person didn’t donate.”

So far, Noguera has made more than 500 masks with her younger sister Sofi and two of her brothers’ girlfriends, Meredith Eby and Lily Geshelin. Those profits have resulted in donations of $1,700 to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, $936 for Manna Food Center and $2,108 for So Others Might Eat. Currently, Solidarity Masks is donating the profits for their Pride masks – which feature rainbow hearts in celebration of Pride Month – to the American Civil Liberties Union.

“My favorite mask designs are the Pride and Black Lives Matter masks because it’s a way to silently and peacefully show your support for the movement for equality,” Noguera said. “I wear mine every time I go out. It’s cool because I went to three protests this month, but I can’t go everyday. With this mask, I can be protesting whenever I leave the house to go to the grocery store or on a walk. I think it’s important we all start to stand for what’s right and push others to as well.”

WCHS rising senior Danielle Probert started her jewelry company, Dani P Designs, to help donate to COVID-19 related organizations. Probert makes custom necklaces and sells them on her Instagram page @danipdesigns. 

“I donate some of my proceeds to various nonprofit COVID-19 organizations because it makes me feel good to know that I can help other people during such hard times,” Probert said.

The feeling of helplessness is not uncommon right now, but by creating their own businesses and volunteering their time and resources, these WCHS students are making a difference.

“Especially during COVID-19, some families are struggling to feed their families due to the high unemployment rate,” Ibraheem said.“Feeding America faces this problem head on through their network of food banks. We are also donating to Black Lives Matter because with all that is going on in the world right now, especially being Black, we understand how pressing the issue of police brutality is. We 100% support the cause and wanted to do something.”