Sunday, July 12, 2020

Click here to
sign up for our newsletter!

The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Jun 03, 2020

8-Year Old Gives Back to the Community, Honors Hero She Lost

By Melissa Acquaviva

Sophia Collett, Middletown

What started as a new hobby transcended into a philanthropic endeavor for a local Middletown elementary student. Meet 8-year-old Sophia Collett.

Sophia Collett, a Middletown second grader, had received a sewing machine for Christmas this year, never knowing at the time how important this piece of machinery would be in the coming months.

The Nut Swamp Elementary School student started taking sewing classes in Fair Haven after receiving her special gift in December. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the community, Sophia felt a desire to help however she can. Making face masks to help people protect themselves against coronavirus seemed like the perfect way.

Sophia’s mom, Jennifer Collett, who also enjoys sewing, explained, “Sophia’s swim coach alerted us that local fabric store, Joann Fabric, was giving away kits to make the mask, and that same week her teacher Mrs. Duffy assigned a philanthropy project.”

It was at that moment that Sophia realized this was the perfect way to take advantage of her new hobby, while giving back to the community.

Sophia’s mom decided to post on local Middletown Facebook pages, as well as some Mom groups to let the community know that Sophia would be happy to donate masks to those who were in need.

Sophia’s home-sewn masks

Sophia and Jennifer were delighted to see the overwhelming demand for face masks. Sophia created and sewed both children’s and adult sizes, with appropriate fabrics that would be attractive to those who were receiving them. Sophia and her mom felt that they might be able to give back to the community even more if they charged money for the masks and used the proceeds to donate to a cause.

Jennifer explained, “After a while, she switched gears and started asking for $5 a mask to donate to first responders and those on the frontline. We respect and honor all that they are doing for us, and she wanted to do something for them for keeping us safe.”

The Collett family was able to donate dinner to staff at Monmouth Medical Center as well as two days’ worth of meals to the Red Bank Veterinary staff and lunches to the Middletown Police Department.

On a personal note, Sophia’s firefighter great-uncle, who she affectionately called “Bear,” had previously died in the line of duty.

Jennifer explained, “Sophia also wanted to help the firefighters and honor Bear.”

When Sophia isn’t making masks or working on virtual home learning, she is also creating and sewing “hero” headbands for the medical staff at local community hospitals, as well Memorial Sloan Kettering in Holmdel. Some of these network connections came from a group called SoS Matters, who also assisted the Collett family in acquiring hard-to-get materials like elastic bands for the masks.

Sophia’s hero headbands

Sophia, an aspiring marine biologist and animal lover, has sewn more than 1,000 masks to date. Though it sounds like this young lady could have a future in fashion and retail, she hopes to one day work with ocean animals at the Georgia Aquarium.