We want to spread laughter and positivity during this time.”
Sixteen-year-old Mira Costa student Justin Oliak and his 14-year-old brother Jake usually spend some of their free time in the spring volunteering for The Giving Spirit, a Los Angeles-based non-profit that gives out survival kits to people experiencing homelessness. However, this year, because of the Corona Virus and stay-at-home orders, they were unable to hit the streets of Skid Row and do their usual volunteer work handing out bags to people in need.
“We’ve been doing it forever, so it felt weird not volunteering this year,” Justin said. “So instead we decided to start the Laughter Project as a way to make up for it.”
Without their usual volunteer work to keep them busy, Justin and his family got to work creating homemade masks that feature red lips and, when the mask is expanded, a great big smile. His brother drew the design, and Redondo Beach printing company Creative Indulgence printed and donated 100 masks worth of fabric to the project.
“When you open it, it’s kind of like a surprise,” his mom Jen said. “It’s meant to be worn closed, and when you open it it makes people laugh.”
Justin and Jake aren’t doing all the work themselves, they have also enlisted the help of nine other kids and teenagers in their neighborhood to help them sew the masks.
“The kids are doing all the cutting and ironing and sewing,” Jen said. “Everybody has a different role.”
So far they’ve sold 38 of the 100 masks, and all of the money raised from the $27 masks goes directly to The Giving Spirit.
“We want to spread laughter and positivity during this time,” Jen said. “And we wanted to do something to help The Giving Spirit because we couldn’t volunteer this year.”
Thank you to all the local teens who have helped make the Laughter Project happen!
Art: Jake Oliak Age 14
Fabric and Printing: Creative Indulgence – Pierre Hoffman
Admin: Justin (16) & Jake Oliak (15)
Production: Ella Luthro (14), Kate Ramallo (17) , Emersyn Bradfield (12), Sloan Roth (13)
Packaging & Distribution: Lorelei Davis (12) Marketing: Avery Roth (Age 15), Scarlet (13) & Alexis Kim (11)