By Karie Simmons
MATTHEWS – A junior at Ardrey Kell High School who has been crocheting ear savers for health care workers during the COVID-19 crisis recently caught the attention of Academy Sports + Outdoors.
The sporting goods store located in Matthews surprised 16-year-old Aastha Arora on Aug. 20 with two $500 gift cards. Aastha used one of the gift cards to buy shoes, sleeping bags, water jugs and clothes for Hot Meals and Care Packets for Charlotte Homeless – a community group that gives food and other items each week to those in need.
She was supposed to use the second $500 gift card to buy back-to-school and back-to-sport items for herself, but Aastha decided to dip into it and spend more on Charlotte’s homeless population.
“I wanted to buy more for them, just to make them happy,” Aastha said. “Academy Sports has so much in their store that would be good for the homeless that I really wanted to give them more than keep it for myself.”
Aastha started making ear savers – stretchable bands that attach to face masks and prevent the elastic from digging into the skin – in April after talking with her father, who is a pulmonologist at Novant Health. He told her many of his staff and co-workers were experiencing ear pain after wearing masks all day, so she decided to do something about it.
It didn’t take long for Aastha to learn how to crochet ear savers out of cotton yarn, which Aastha buys with money she makes from tutoring. She said it takes her about 15 to 20 minutes to make one band. So far, she’s made almost 500. Aastha calls her effort “Ear Savers for Life Savers.”
Word spread quickly after her mother posted about the bands on Nextdoor. Through sales, she’s been able to give $500 to Hot Meal and Care Packets For Charlotte Homeless. Aastha also sells the bands through Ballantyne Families Helping Neighbors in Need, with 100% of the proceeds going directly to that organization as well.
When Academy Sports reached out, Aastha thought she was just going by the store to drop off some bands.
“My main goal was just to help the health care workers and the homeless and that’s all I wanted to do,” Aastha said. “When they reached out, I was not expecting it at all, but I was grateful that I was being recognized for my efforts.”
Aastha thanked her parents and brother for helping and supporting her over the last several months. She also encouraged other kids and teens to get creative in finding ways to give back to their community, too.
“We’re all so blessed and we should be grateful to be so blessed,” she said. “We should be willing to help and share with people who are in need and don’t have as much as we do.”
Show your support
Buy ear savers and donate to Ballantyne Families Helping Neighbors in Need at www.sites.google.com/view/ballantynefamilies/mask-fundraiser or Hot Meals and Care Packets for Charlotte Homeless at www.shiny.me/product/mask-extenders-pack-of-3-fabric. Follow @earsaversforlifesavers on Instagram to stay connected.