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How one Weehawken student helped her grandmother through a pandemic

12-year-old Cassandra wanted to distract Juana Gonzalez from worrying about her sick son

Mask extenders made by Juana and Cassandra.

Weehawken High School student Cassandra Gonzalez, 12, wanted to take her grandmother’s mind off the COVID-19 pandemic. To help, Cassandra has been crafting helpful mask accessories with her.

Cassandra’s grandma, Juana Gonzalez, was worried about her son Carlos, who is sick with COVID-19. Carlos, a NJ Transit bus-driver, was in Hackensack Hospital at the time, battling the virus.

To help distract her grandmother, Cassandra suggested she crochet mask extenders for front-line healthcare workers.

Normally, face masks loop behind the ears, which can be irritating after a while. Juana and Cassandra sew large buttons on to the colorful bands they crochet, allowing the loops to fasten the mask to the back of the head.

“I’ve been surrounded by all her crochet work since I was a baby,” Cassandra said. “My grandma and I decided on this project to give back to the front-line workers in the hospitals.”

So far, the Gonzalez team has crocheted more than 100 mask extenders for front-line healthcare workers. Juana is hoping to donate the adult mask extenders to Hackensack Hospital, where her son was treated for COVID-19.

A variety of the hand-made mask extenders by the Gonzalez family.

Crocheting is caring

Carlos, who believes he contracted the virus while driving a New Jersey Transit bus, was released and recovered at home.

“He was well taken care of,” Cassandra said. “But the time in the hospital was pretty scary, especially for my grandma, so she is very grateful.”

Juana has also crocheted more than 80 mask extenders for young children and she is hoping to donate them to Daniel Webster Elementary School, in Weehawken.

Cassandra’s brother, Damian, is a first-grader at the school. According to Cassandra, her seven-year-old brother was the inspiration for them.

“We wanted him to not feel uncomfortable with masks, since that can be our new normal for a while,” she said.

And the mask making team is not stopping yet.

Juana Gonzalez would like to crochet more mask extenders, but has run out of yarn and buttons. If anyone wants to donate these materials to her, they can contact Ivan Gonzalez at 201-713-9879 or dragonsoul4826@gmail.com.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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