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Middle schooler in Kansas creates MaskerAIDS, proceeds benefit families in need

Middle schooler in Kansas creates MaskerAIDS, proceeds benefit families in need
Posted at 3:34 PM, Oct 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-12 15:34:50-04

LEAWOOD, Kan. - Walking down the streets, grocery stores, and airports, face coverings are the current reality.

For his bar mitzvah project, Leawood Middle School seventh-grader, Jonah Stein, wanted to add a little more to masks.

"These are MaskerAIDS, they're basically necklaces for your masks," Jonah said. "It's when you're not wearing them, they kind of just hanging down so they're not in the way. But they're also functional when you need them."

As he sells his MaskerAIDS, Jonah says all the proceeds benefit Jewish Family Services.

"At the start of the pandemic, you could just see lines of people trying to get food, just waiting for food to be put in their cars," he said.

Jonah, who volunteers at Jewish Family Services, says he wanted to help families in need who are food insecure and going through a difficult time.

"Jonah is just such a great example of one person making a huge impact," JFS older adult services director, Laura Gilman said.

From produce to toiletries and protein, Gilman said she's seen the need grow.

"We at least doubled during COVID. We're serving over 500 families a month," she said. "And then by the end of this year, we're going to serve about, between October, November, December, about 1,500 households, so that's not individuals, that's households."

The MaskerAID proceeds go towards the Kesher KC Bags, which Jonah also helped bring to Kansas City.

"Someone we know in Minnesota, it was at their synagogue, and I kind of told JFS about it, and they used the idea and went with it," Jonah said. "They are bags that have essentials of, like, heat up meals and food and then they also have some resources."

"These bags are a really awesome way for us to create a stopgap for people," Gilman said. "We operate by appointment only because we are a choice and voice pantry."

Jonah's goal was to raise $1,800 for JFS, but he underestimated himself and his work.

"It's been amazing," he said. "We've raised $7,600 dollars and still climbing for JFS."

Thousands of dollars have been raised to help serve families he may never meet.

"Even though I might not meet them, I know it kind of either brings a smile to their face and it fills their stomach," Jonah said. "And just helps everyone and makes me happy in that way."

If you're looking for assistance from JFS, visit their website. They serve roughly 7,000 families a year.

"The majority of clients are not Jewish. It's for everyone, no matter their race, religious affiliation, who they love, documentation status, and so we're still here," Gilman said. "We're still here to serve and we couldn't do it without amazing individuals with awesome passion like Jonah."

To learn more about Jonah's MaskerAIDS, visit his website.

This story was first published by Rae Daniel at KSHB in Kansas City, Missouri.