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Local Boy Making Mask Aids To Support Jewish Family Services Food Pantry

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has sold masks to people in 14 different states in just the first three weeks of operation.

Local Boy Making Mask Aids To Support Jewish Family Services Food Pantry

Jonah Stein is quite the social entrepreneur. The Leawood Middle School seventh-grade student is doing a service project connected to his upcoming Bar Mitzvah that will help feed hundreds facing food insecurity here in Kansas City.

Wise beyond his years, Jonah has created what he calls MASKerAIDs, a beaded necklace that connects to a person's mask making it easy to wear. You can wear the mask as usual, and then conveniently pull it down when you don't need it and have it stored comfortably and fashionably out of the way.

The son of Josh and Sheryl Stein, Jonah gave great thought to his Bar Mitzvah project. Jonah and his family have been volunteers for Jewish Family Services Food Pantry, and his time serving the human service agency inspired the meaningful project.

"When thinking about the cause to support, I chose Jewish Family Services because I have always loved volunteering at the food pantry and seeing the great work they do. "I saw a similar product and the wheels started turning about what I could do. Creating MASKerAIDs allows me to not only solve a modern-day challenge, but also to use the funds I earn from the sales to support JFS and its Kesher KC Care Bag program."

Kesher KC bags are an extension of JFS' Food Pantry. Each bag contains food for a day that is easy to heat, serve and eat. Bags include items most people enjoy including fruit, vegetables and a protein. In addition, the bag includes a guide to additional resources throughout the community. Kesher KC Bags are given to JFS Food Pantry walk-in clients. The public may also purchase Kesher KC Bags to distribute to others they encounter who may be experiencing homelessness or food insecurity.

Jonah has a personal connection to the Kesher KC bag program, as well.

"I feel like I played a part in getting it off the ground," Jonah said. "I saw a similar program in Minneapolis when I was there with my family for a funeral. I thought it was a great idea so I shared it with Taly (Friedman) at JFS and learned they were exploring similar ideas and it launched soon after."

Jonah also helped make the initial Kesher KC Bags through a family event with J-LEAD, a program of the Jewish Community Foundation where his dad Josh is director of philanthropy.

"Jonah has been passionate about the Kesher bag program since before it even came to be, approaching me about the idea as we were in conversation about the program on the JFS side," said Taly Friedman, JFS Director of Volunteer Engagement. "It's been incredible to see how he has grown since his initial idea, from volunteering to put the bags together to now creating the MASKerAID project, which fulfills an important need all while supporting the Kesher bag project."

Available in a variety of colors and designs, the MASKerAIDs are priced at $15 each with 100 percent of the proceeds going to JFS. Jonah and his "team"- including his parents, his younger sister Leora and Grandmother Esther Stein - can also make custom designs for MASKerAIDs. The Stein team has been hard at work already making about 200 MASKerAIDs with more in the assembly line to meet the growing demand. Jonah is selling them through a web site he and his dad designed that can be easily accessed from a page on the JFS website:

Jonah already surpassed his initial fundraising goal of $3,600 and has sold masks to people in 14 different states in just the first three weeks MASKerAIDs were on the market.

"Orders are starting to come in from people we don't know, which is really exciting," Jonah said.

The Congregation Beth Shalom teen is learning a lot through his service project.

"This has taught me a lot about running a business and I even developed my first website," Jonah said. "It has made me feel good seeing how excited people are to support the project, especially with the proceeds supporting such a great cause."

"I hope that others realize the impact that each one of us can make if we put our minds to something that we care about," he said.

Jonah's parents are proud, too.

"In a professional capacity I help others pursue their charitable goals through the Jewish Community Foundation, so this has been especially rewarding helping to support Jonah's goal and vision to make a difference in this world and we are so proud of what he has already accomplished," Josh Stein said.

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