Lending a hand: 8-year-old joins the effort to make face masks

ALABASTER – Lando Aldridge is no stranger to giving back to his community. For the past two years, he’s been making and selling hats and donating the profits to a local animal hospital, and now he’s making face masks – some are sold and others are donated to medical professionals.

Francie Ann Vono-Aldridge said she has been allowing her 8-year-old son to watch the news with her so he can stay informed about what is going on with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I field any questions he has and we discuss things so it might not be so scary,” Vono-Aldridge said. “He came to me Thursday, March 26, and said, ‘Mom, I want to sew masks to help out. We can give them to medical people and maybe people will donate money for a mask and we can give that money to Sanctuary Animal Rescue.’”

Vono-Aldridge said she talked to her son about his idea for a little while to make sure he was serious.

“It was his idea to start Hats for Cats, so it wasn’t a stretch for him to do this,” she said.

“If people have masks they won’t spread germs too much,” Lando added.

With Hats for Cats, Lando makes and sells hats and donates the proceeds to Sanctuary Animal Rescue. The duo has now launched Masks for Medical Workers. Vono-Aldridge cuts and pins all the masks patterns, and Lando does the majority of the sewing. His mom helps him sew the harder parts. The fabric he uses was donated to him.

“I think some people might have been afraid that because a kid was doing it, the masks might not be up to par,” Vono-Aldridge said.

Some people end up ordering more masks once they see how well-made Lando’s masks are. Right now, there are two washable face mask designs to choose from. One is a typical face mask with elastic ear straps and the other includes a slit where a filter can be inserted into the mask.

Lando donates masks to those who work in the medical field and sells masks to the general public — $3 for kid masks and $4 for adult masks. As a result of his hard work, he was able to send $518 to Sanctuary Animal Rescue about two weeks ago.

So far, Lando has made and distributed 153 masks and he has more orders to complete. In addition to Alabama, his masks have been sold to people living in Georgia, Texas and New York.

He’s donated masks to firefighters, veterinary hospitals and to nurses. Whenever he donates a mask to a medical worker, he’s always sure to include a handwritten note.

Right now, Lando and his mom said they will continue to make masks for as long as there is a need.

To order a mask, reach out to Vono-Aldridge on Lando’s Hats for Cats Facebook page. Donations are also welcomed.