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Mason HS teen entrepreneur turning hand cream venture into a way to help families during pandemic

From keeping hands soft to keeping them clean
Posted at 4:56 PM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 19:16:12-04

MASON, Ohio — For one Mason High School sophomore, the extra time spent at home over the last six weeks has brought her closer to her parents. It's also given her a chance to take one of her passions and turn it into compassion.

"I never watched the news, and my dad is now obsessed with finding out everything about coronavirus," said Mason sophomore Bela Karajagi. "He makes me watch it. I mean, it interests me, too."

She also asked her mother to help her learn to sew.

"Now because of this, she became a little closer to me," said Bela's mother, Archana Karajagi.

What has hit Bela the hardest as she's watched the coronavirus pandemic sweep the Tri-State, the nation and the world: the plight of people who, unlike her, have no roof over their heads.

That's what led her to the idea of assembling simple hygiene kits for families experiencing homelessness.

"I got the idea of making hygiene kits because I watched Governor DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton talk about what people are going through," Bela told WCPO. "It was shocking."

This isn't Bela's first entrepreneurial idea: She already owns her own business, Bela Butters, which sells lotion and cream to keep hands soft. Now, in light of the COVID-19 crisis, she's expanded that business into a larger, philanthropic effort with the mission of keeping hands clean.

The sewing know-how she's picked up from Archana during the stay-at-home period has even allowed her to include handmade face masks in those hygiene kits.

Each bag comes with a mask, hand sanitizer, soap and -- of course -- some of her own Bela Butter.

The teen said she's delivered 50 kits so far and has an order for supplies to make 400 more.

Linda Rabolt, with Interfaith Hospitality Network of Warren County said she's been impressed with Bela's work.

"The kits have truly been amazing," Rabolt said, adding that Bela understood the need for these kits before others did.

Bela's mother agrees: "During this pandemic time, everyone should think, 'We,' not just, 'Me.'"

But for Bela, helping others and finding benefit for herself aren't mutually exclusive.

"It makes me happy," she said.

Those interested in supporting Bela's hygiene kit production can contribute to her GoFundMe page.