MHS grad aids virus relief

McNary grad Ish Guevara is making masks and funneling the proceeds into other good deeds (Submitted).

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, Ish Guevara didn’t want to sit on the sidelines while people in the Salem-Keizer community were in need.

“I may not be the richest person in the world, but I knew that there was some way that I could help people out,” Guevara said.

The McNary alum has been interested in sewing and fashion design ever since he was a kid, which is why, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, he has been creating and selling masks for $10 apiece — with all funds going towards donating food to families in need.

All of Guevara’s masks are tightly woven and double-layered with seams for filters. They are made with 100 percent cotton and meet the safety guidelines of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.(CDC).

“You wouldn’t be able to blow out a candle with the mask on,” Guevara said.

The masks come in both children and adult sizes.

While Guevara offers basic, single-colored masks, he also includes his passion for art and design in many of his creations as he has made a multitude of different designs for many of his masks, featuring anything from popular cartoons to sports teams.

Although some customers have picked up their masks at his front door, Guevara mails out the majority of his orders. While many of his orders come from people in the Salem-Keizer area, Guevara says he’s even been able to sell masks to people on the east coast — which is partially due to his large social media following.

“All the networking I have done has helped me sell the masks at a higher rate,” Guevara said. 

Over the last two-and-a-half months, Guevara has made well over 1,000 masks. Even though it’s an extensive process, Guevara doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon. 

“It’s a long and tiring process. But even when I just wanted to rest, I knew that I had to keep trying to come through for families that were in need,” Guevara said. “This has become a passion project of mine and, no matter what, I’m going to keep going.”

Guevara admitted that a lot of his motivation comes from his personal background. Raised by a working class family in Los Angeles before moving to Keizer, Guevara has always had a heart for people in need, which is why he has worked tirelessly to use his gift of sewing to raise money to feed hungry families.

“I’ve always wanted to help out during crucial times. It reminds me where I came from,” Guevara said. 

Using the money from the masks, Guevara made 26 food baskets filled with rice, beans, flour, soup, cereal, toothpaste and other essential items. Each basket also included a $40 gift card to a grocery store.

“I asked on my social media for people to forward me families or people that they knew needed help. Some were migrant agricultural workers that didn’t receive stimulus checks, some were cancer survivors and some were single mothers,” Guevara said.

Since then, Guevara has donated his earnings to Mano a Mano food bank on Portland Road in Salem. 

While he continues to make more masks and raise additional money, Guevara encourages people to help those that are in need in any way that they can.

“What I always tell people is that we can only get through this tough time by helping and thinking of others,” Guevara said.