This Inspiring 13-Year-Old Sews Face Masks to Donate to Hospitals in Need

After sewing bow ties to help shelter animals get adopted, Darius Brown is now using his skills to protect medical workers on the frontline.

Wearing a face mask is one way to help protect yourself and others from the spread of the new coronavirus, and it's an essential part of the uniform for anyone who works in a hospital. Across the country, those with sewing skills are stepping up to create fabric face masks for friends and family or donate to local facilities. One of those individuals is Darius Brown, a 13-year-old from New Jersey who initially captured our hearts by sewing bow ties to help shelter animals get adopted. Now, he's applying his sewing skills to create fabric masks for hospitals in need.

13 year old Darius Brown making masks
Courtesy of Darius Brown

To make the masks, Darius draws from his supply of donated fabric from his organization Beaux and Paws, which has delivered hundreds of bow ties (hand-sewn by Darius himself) to animal rescue organizations nationwide. The goal is to make the animals look extra adorable so they can find new homes faster (and his charitable efforts have even been recognized by President Barack Obama!).

In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, however, Darius announced a pivot from bow ties to face masks, which the seventh grader, along with help from his mom, Joy, plans to donate to hospitals in New Jersey and New York. "Today I am working on creating surgical masks to donate since the hospitals have a shortage on masks," Darius wrote in an Instagram post. "Let's all work together, help out where we can, and especially practice social distancing so we can all get through this pandemic." So far, he's sewn at least 75 masks, which can be used to supplement medical-grade personal protective equipment as supplies run low.

At two years old, Darius was diagnosed with a speech, comprehension, and fine motor skills delay, but learning to sew at the age of 8 helped improve his dexterity. After assisting his older sister Dazhai with sewing projects, he soon began fashioning his own bow ties, which, two years later, evolved into his mission to help shelter animals dress for success.

Darius Brown

Let's all work together, help out where we can, and especially practice social distancing so we can all get through this pandemic.

— Darius Brown

Although Darius has received many requests to purchase his masks, he's currently focusing his efforts on donations. However, he hopes to make some available to shop soon. To help support Darius in his charitable handiwork, you can donate to his GoFundMe page, which helps cover the costs of fabric and supplies, or purchase one of the hand-sewn pet bowties on his website.

Darius's positive outlook and generous spirit can serve as a lesson to us all about remaining optimistic and doing our part to help others in need. As he writes in an Instagram post, "Although this pandemic has affected all of our lives, let's continue to smile, stay positive and help each other through this crisis."

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