Written by Denise Anchico
Carolina Takesky is known to the Hauppauge Public Library staff as 10-year-old Ava’s mom, and leader of Ava’s Girl Scout Troop 1606. The troop regularly meets at the library. While at home during NY Pause, Ava wanted to learn how to sew and approached her mom about making masks to help with the increasing demand as required by NY State. Carolina liked the idea and posted to local moms on Facebook asking to borrow a sewing machine. Soon enough, a machine was donated. The sewing project shortly turned into an act of kindness, strength, and fortitude so benevolent that it would be difficult not to categorize Carolina as a local Hauppauge hero. Featured in various news outlets, including News 12 Long Island, and acknowledged on many other social media posts, Dinner and a Mask has taken a foothold in our community and has proven to be an invaluable service to our frontline workers, first responders, and their families.
Sewing Masks: The idea is a simple one. Learn how to sew masks, sell them, and use the profits to purchase meals as a way of saying “Thank you.” This did require a bit of coordination but Carolina, being both a mom and a Girl Scout troop leader, was more than up for the task. First, she researched online how to make masks—Really. Great. Masks. They must be made from soft, yet durable material. After speaking with frontline workers and first responders, she learned what criteria made for a mask that was comfortable, plus easy to care for. (As an example, nurses told Carolina that the elastic bands on surgical masks behind their ears was very bothersome after many hours of wear.)
It turns out that t-shirts are the perfect material, so Carolina put out another call on Facebook for t-shirt donations. On any given day of the week there are bags of t-shirts left outside on her property. She lets them sit, untouched, for 24 hours in her garage before using, as is recommended for safety reasons. After that she begins the prepping, cutting and sewing. The Buzz would like to give a special shout out to John Stein, of Restoration Dry Cleaners in Bay Shore, for donating much of the sewing thread Carolina uses to make her masks. Each one takes about ten minutes to sew and she gets about 4 masks out of a man’s t-shirt size large. To date, Carolina estimates that she has sewn about 200 masks. Each one sells for $5 and there is currently a three day wait time on all orders. See below for order and donation information.
Providing Meals: What could be better than sewing masks? Using the proceeds to provide meals to our frontline workers, first responders, and their families. After coordinating with local restaurants such as Three Bambino’s Pizzeria in Smithtown, Salsa Salsa of Smithtown, and Mama Sbarro’s of Hauppauge, meals are purchased and then delivered by the restaurants to the homes of doctors, nurses, EMTs, ambulance drivers, police officers and others on the front line keeping us safe. Many recipients of these meals are NYPD officers who live locally. Just as many are recovering from testing positive for COVID-19 after being exposed to the virus on the job. One recipient is a scientist who works at Stony Brook University. She has been busy testing between 60 to 80 specimens each day in hopes of coming closer to a vaccine. Carolina told The Buzz, when asked what type of cuisine people would like, many are so thankful they decline to even say. “In that case, they get Italian.” Others wish to decline receiving the dinners altogether, telling Carolina they are just doing their job. She manages to convince them otherwise. “It’s our way of saying thanks and it gives them a night off from cooking.” One deserving family member had made a special request from Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices in Smithtown. When the owner, retired police officer John Badalamente, found this out, he then donated an extra three ice cream sundaes to the cause!
Dinner and a Mask Contact Information: Anyone wishing to order a mask can do so directly through the Dinner and a Mask Facebook page by clicking on the ‘Shop’ link. Cash is not accepted but you will be directed to online payment options. To make a t-shirt donation or for all other inquiries, please email Carolina Takesky at firstname.lastname@example.org
Restaurants and businesses mentioned in this article in order of appearance:
Restoration Dry Cleaners / 35 Fifth Avenue Bay Shore, NY 11706; 800-840-6665 https://restorationdrycleanersny.com/
Three Bambinos Pizzeria / 385 Veterans Memorial Hwy, Smithtown, NY 11787; 631-543-0110 https://www.3bambinos.com/Home
Salsa Salsa / 320 Maple Ave, Smithtown, NY 11787; 631-360-8080 https://www.salsasalsa.net/smithtown/
Mama Sbarro’s of Hauppauge / 586 Veteran’s Memorial Hwy, Hauppauge, NY 11788; 631-360-4343 http://www.mamasbarrosofhauppaugeny.com/
Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices / 316 Maple Avenue, Smithtown, NY 11787; 631-863-0199 https://www.ralphsices.com/