A group of friends at Longview ISD’s Hudson PEP Elementary School have started a business, and they’re using the profits to help the community’s homeless population.

Third-graders Jordan Bergman, Bolu Adeyeye and Mueez Mughal are selling neck “buff” masks — tubes of fabric that can be worn as face masks — and $1 from each sale will be used to buy food to donate to Hiway 80 Rescue Mission in Longview.

Jordan said his dad was selling custom buffs, and he wanted to be able to sell them to classmates. He then got his friends involved, and they made order forms. The buffs are made in Pakistan.

The masks, which can be used to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 or other communicable diseases, are available for purchase at the school and online, Jordan said.

Bolu said the group wanted to help poor people who are hungry, which grew into the friends’ idea of using some of the money to buy food for the rescue mission.

Having the business is even more fun for the boys, they said, since they are all friends.

“I feel like I’m not alone anymore. I feel like I have some company and some people who are my friends,” Bolu said. “This business shows that people from different backgrounds can come together.”

The demand for the masks has exceeded expectations, Mueez said. The group has received about five orders per week for the buffs.

“You just throw them in the washer. But for (disposable) masks, you have to throw them away, which is kind of wasting the money,” Mueez said. “I think that these would be a little better because you just have to wash them, and they’re a pretty good quality.”

Hiway 80 Rescue Mission Development Director Amelia Heatherly said it is special when children choose to give to the mission on their own versus their parents making them or having some type of school-wide event.

“With somebody this young — that initiative and just that passion — it warms my heart,” she said. “In the world we live in, you don’t see that a lot.”

Heatherly said the children’s giving hearts will help their community.

“Hiway 80 is honored that they chose us,” she said. “I think that just watching these boys and talking to them — that these small things they are doing is an opportunity to change the world, and you don’t see that a lot.”

Their teacher, Brandi Patterson, said the boys presented the idea to her at school, and she has been helping guide them.

She said she was proud of her students for wanting to help others.

“It’s just really inspiring as a teacher,” she said. “And I’m just glad I can create a safe space where they feel comfortable sharing those ideas and just going for it. And they’re an inspiration to me, too. I’m very grateful and excited for them.”

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Kristen is the News-Journal's education reporter. A Longview native, she got a journalism degree and a graduate certificate at Texas Tech University. She covers a variety of issues, including school finance, board meetings and happenings at local schools.