OC teens form group to pass out free masks, encourage their use

Three Orange County teens have formed a group to give out at least 500 masks to help the community find unity after protests of stay-at-home orders.
HUNTINGTON BEACH (KABC) -- Some Orange County high school students are going out of their way to keep their community safe.

As more public spaces open up, there is likely to be more tension between people wearing and not wearing masks.

Three Huntington Beach teens decided to do something about it, by organizing a mask giveaway.

Hailey Holcomb, Jenna Ali and Summer Balentine named their group "Put On a Mask, Pass Out a Mask," or POMPOM HB.

These high school juniors were determined to help their community find unity and safely reopen the economy.

"From the start we knew right away that we wanted to pass out all these masks for free," said Haley Holcomb.

They'll do just that with mask giveaways in downtown Huntington Beach. Donations are helping them get 500 masks and 50 DIY reusable mask kits. The trio's call to action: hundreds of demonstrators who were protesting stay-at-home orders.

"We all believe that these small businesses and local businesses should open up. We just thought that the way they did it and the way they protested was wrong, with no one wearing masks," said Summer Balentine.

"We were all really disappointed that Huntington Beach was being seen as this city of privileged people who don't care about the coronavirus but we think that especially our generation we understand how this is really impacting small businesses and people's health," said Jenna Ali.

The trio became friends through their time in Model United Nations, where they learned to be advocates and activists.

"We want to make sure that these juniors right now, the class of 2021, can go back to school and actually have a graduation and have a fun senior year because if we don't do that and we don't flatten the curve then that won't happen," said Balentine.

"In most cases it's really not about protecting yourself it's about protecting others and making the city safe and accessible for everyone," said Holcomb.

Their mission is to inspire other young people along the way to also take action.

"You just have to get a couple friends together and I think that you can make a difference no matter who you are and where you are in the world," said Ali.

The co-founders of PomPom HB will kick things off Saturday, May 30, and it will be the first of several mask giveaways for anyone wanting to donate to their cause.

Saturday's giveaway will be the first of several. Anyone wanting to learn more about the group or donate to it can click here.
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