My name is Erika Veloso, and I am currently 16 years old, attending Valencia High School as a sophomore. I'm currently the Director of Project Leaders, overseeing over 70 project leaders within our team of 200 virtual volunteers from 15 countries globally. During my free time, I like to make art traditionally and digitally since I enjoy being able to express myself in a creative manner. During the weekends I love eating outside with my family–we love exploring food from different cultures! Since I am also involved in my school's band program, I enjoy playing instruments, specifically the piano. A few causes I am passionate about include mental health, mental illness awareness, and empowering individuals with disabilities. Additionally, I am also passionate about cancer awareness and supporting those who have just gotten diagnosed, are fighting cancer, or are survivors.

MAsked sewn with love: 83


An award-winning, student-led 501(c)3 nonprofit organization repurposing linens to charities since 2014.

As the Director of Project Leaders in the Linens N Love Global Virtual Volunteering Program, I decided to first tackle the challenge of helping those around me who are most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For 9 years, my grandma's beloved sewing machine had been stowed away in a drawer underneath my bed. I had always neglected it because I had no knowledge of how to use it.

In our home, we also had a surplus of unused fabrics that my mom nearly donated. However, as we were first faced with these unprecedented times, we learned how to hand sew masks. After that, we then decided that it was finally time to put the sewing machine to use after nearly a decade of it being untouched.

After several weeks of cutting and sewing, together, my mom and I successfully made 83 masks at home, which we then donated to a senior living center. I understood that the most vulnerable group in the community is the elderly, so I felt it most important that they receive our help during this time. I believe that this project has impacted our community because by using what we already had, we were able to provide necessities to those who needed them most.

This project served as a meaningful experience for me because I was able to not only learn something completely new, but I was also able to share my blessings with the rest of my community members. I am passionate when it comes to health, and I want to ensure that no one is ever put at a disadvantage in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

For my next project, I am looking to challenge myself even more, so that I can grow as an individual and create greater change around me. I look forward to accomplishing more projects with Linens N Love, and I encourage you to also get involved if you are passionate about making change in your communities!

My experience with this project proved that nothing, not even a worldwide pandemic, could stop me from contributing to my community, and that is the beauty of helping other people.

Every impact you make, no matter how small or large, goes a long way. As for me, I was able to make a positive impact on my community one mask at a time.