After losing a grad trip, South Shore teen makes her own volunteer project

Sixteen-year-old Avril Hernandez had big plans for her final year of high school, and they didn’t look like this.

Avril’s school in St. Lambert was planning a humanitarian trip to Guatemala this spring, and Avril would have been on it along with some of her graduating classmates.

Now that that’s no longer an option, Avril has tried to use the trip as inspiration for something closer to home.

“With the COVID situation and everything, it was cancelled,” she said. “So I decided to stay with the whole idea of giving back to people and doing something good.”

She decided that something should be sewing—even though it was something she’d never done. With her mom’s help, she started making homemade masks.

“This is my first time, so I’m learning something new with the process,” she says.

“It takes round 30 mins to an hour to make each mask.”

The masks became good enough to sell, and Avril and her mom started a Facebook page where they could offer them to friends.

The proceeds will go towards helping people here in Montreal and elsewhere, she says. 

“A part of it will go to a local foundation for a food bank, and another part will go to Mexico to help those in need during this pandemic,” Avril says.

Now that masks are strongly recommended for people in Quebec, especially when using transit or shopping in stores, Avril decided to take things a step further and give away some masks at the Longueuil metro station.

The whole idea was Avril’s, from the start, says her mother, Dionisia Monzalvo. She wasn’t completely surprised, since Avril had also raised the entire cost of her planned Guatemala trip—$2,200—working in a coffee shop.

Monzalvo says she’s especially proud, though, that her daughter didn’t lose sight of the humanitarian purpose behind the trip, even when the trip disappeared.

“I am very proud of her,” she says. “It’s a great thing.”

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