Credit: Lauren Young / Provided

WEST TOWN — A neighborhood leader and avid sewer launched a mutual aid effort to lift the spirits of West Town seniors this winter.

The Holly Jolly Mask & Mail Project, created by Lauren Young, aims to provide West Town seniors with face masks and handwritten holiday cards.

“I hope to spread a little holiday cheer to at least 1,800 seniors in the West Town area,” Young said in a Facebook message.

Young is asking neighbors to write holiday cards in English, Spanish, Polish and Ukrainian. The deadline to submit a card is Nov. 30. Volunteers can contact Young directly to arrange a pick-up or drop-off.

“To ensure we are not putting anyone at risk of contracting Covid, the cards will be quarantined after arriving at my house,” Young said. “After the quarantine period, they will be placed into Ziploc bags using gloves.”

Neighbors can assist in the mask portion of the project by donating via Venmo (Lmyoung86) or purchasing items on an Amazon Wishlist.

“All money in my Venmo will go directly to purchasing fabric, sewing materials and packaging for the cards and masks,” Young said. “The masks will be washed twice after sewing and then be immediately placed into the Ziploc bags using gloves.”

Once quarantined and sealed, Young will deliver cards and masks to building managers and staff of local senior homes for distribution.

Volunteers as well as seniors who want to sign up for the program can text or call Young at 312-725-6225 or email

Neighbors who know of seniors they’d like to include in the project should contact Young with the senior’s name, address and phone number.

A leader of the Chicago-Grand Neighborhood Association and a 12th District Court Advocate, Young has spent much of the year sewing masks for neighbors.

She estimated that she’s made at least 8,000 masks since the start of the pandemic. Twitter @hannahalani