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Japan schoolgirl uses own savings to handcraft 612 masks for people in need

Hime Takimoto, left, presents a box of her handmade masks to Yamanashi Gov. Kotaro Nagasaki at the prefectural government headquarters on March 17, 2020. (Mainichi/Kenji Noro)

KOFU -- A junior high school girl has handcrafted 612 masks from materials bought with some 80,000 yen of her own savings to help out the elderly, orphans and others facing shortages due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Hime Takimoto, 13, a first-year student at University of Yamanashi Model Junior High School, visited the Yamanashi Prefectural Government headquarters in Kofu on March 17 and donated her handmade masks to Yamanashi Gov. Kotaro Nagasaki.

"I hope these masks will be used by as many people as possible," she said. The masks are due to be distributed to facilities in need, including homes for the elderly and those for orphaned and neglected children.

Hime used about 80,000 yen of her own money to buy materials for the masks from around late February and spent up to five hours a day making them, using the free time she had when her school was closed due to the coronavirus. Each mask is packed individually with the message, "Wash your hands and gargle diligently."

"I'm not that good at sewing but tried hard to make them as I want to help people," she said.

(Japanese original by Kenji Noro, Kofu Bureau)

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