Miranda BonDurant, a freshman at Montini Catholic High School in Lombard, is not spending her time in shutdown binge watching Netflix or creating tic tok videos like many teens her age. She and mom, Justine, are taking advantage of their time at home by creating and donating washable, reusable masks. "We saw lots of people on social media asking about where they could buy masks. My mom used to design costumes so we thought we could make nice ones to sell," said Justine. They use the money they make selling masks to purchase more supplies to make masks to donate to people in need as well as to essential workers. "We have also donated money we've earned to charities, one is 'Girls In The Game' which helps young girls find their voice, discover their strengths and lead with confidence through sports, health and leadership programs." (The organization has locations in Texas, Baltimore and Chicago.)
Miranda says that it was her parents who instilled in her the frame of mind to be grateful for all things and the desire to help people in need. "We’ve been volunteering in Chicago for as long as I can remember, soup kitchens and homeless shelters." They have even posed as elves around Christmastime at shelters in Chicago. "I think sometimes people just need someone to make them smile."
Miranda gives her customers the option of elastic or ribbon ties as well as kids or adult sizes. "We tried making two different styles but decided to do the double fold mask because it can fit anyone no matter their face size." She provides a sheet for each order, fills it out and then pulls the material to be sewn. "I try to complete the order by the next day but it depends on my daily list. I’m still going to virtual classes at Montini, doing chores, house projects, working out and daily softball training."
Once the order is completed Miranda or her mom contacts the purchaser and decides whether to drop-off or mail their new masks. "I keep track of how much is owed and how much is
going to each charity on each person's sheet. Once I start to run low on a certain fabric, I
start looking for new fabric." This is sometimes difficult, according to Miranda, because some of the material she uses frequently is sold out. "We use Jo-Ann fabric and Micheal’s the most because we can place an order, if it’s available, and then pick it up at the curb the next day. We also pick out who we want to donate to that week and decide if it is just a mask donation or a PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) kit or if we are adding sweet treats to it! We tend to do the treat drop offs on the weekend so we have time to bake them. I really enjoy what I’m doing but am the happiest when I drop off my stuff!"
Miranda truly just likes to make people smile, despite having her own ups and downs the past few months. "I waited all year for softball season to come around and a few days before our first game we were all sent home, our season was cancelled and it’s been tough knowing I have to wait another year," she explained. "I think about the seniors at Montini and everywhere who have not been able to do all the things they’ve waited four years to do and maybe just need someone to make them smile. I know laughing with my friends and them making me smile have helped me through being at home and I hope my donations can do the same for someone else."
Miranda's mom has also been teaching her to sew while they've been homebound and she is happy to have parents who are more than supportive of her generous endeavors. "My dad is very happy because he is always telling me to think outside the box and come up with my own ideas. They like it because this is actually teaching me how to run a small business!" Miranda's dad, Brian BonDurant, is a business owner who has had to shut down his own bar/restaurant during the Covid ordeal. "He still goes into the office everyday and never gives up. He always has a positive attitude and tries to figure out new ways to look at things so he can keep going. Both my parents are strong and never give up on anything, especially me."
Miranda has also found inspiration from her English teacher at Montini, Ms. Shannon Valley. "I came from Chicago to Montini and was nervous because I only knew a few people. Ms. Valley made me feel very welcome and made me feel like I could talk to her about anything. She has always been supportive of me even when I was not feeling positive about myself. I always know that I can go to Ms. Valley with anything no matter what it is."
She has received much positive feedback from her charitable gifts. "Everyone has been very happy with the donations. People text my mom how much they appreciate the supplies or just how thankful they are that they are being thought of," she said. "We have donated masks and cases of soda to restaurants/bars who are dropping off meals to essential workers. We also donate trays of teats and PPE kits w/our masks to fire stations and treats to members of the Chicago Police Department at McCormick Place."
"We should all emulate Miranda and the way she gives so unselfishly of her time and talents," said Montini Catholic President Jim Segredo. "She is truly an inspiration and a wonderful representative of the values and principles we hold so dear here at Montini Catholic."