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NEWTON — The Newton Masonic Lodge has hatched a plan to help others during the COVID-19 outbreak that has shuttered school buildings and community hangouts.
A group of 15 members are about to become the community delivery drivers — there should be between two or three drivers available when needed. They will supplement volunteer delivery services in town. (Newton Fire/EMS launched a service for senior citizens in the past week.)
The Masons aren’t limited to serving senior citizens; there are a group of 15 drivers at this time.
“If someone is sick, not feeling good or just nervous and not wanting to get out, we want to help them so they do not have to,” said Matt Hockett, one of two members of the lodge who is in charge of the project.
They are also not limiting things to groceries. Hockett said local businesses will be struggling, if they are not already.
“This is hard. They don’t have the regulars,” Hockett said. “I hope we can bridge that gap.”
The club has members throughout the county, meaning that they are willing to go to places like Walton, Sedgwick, Halstead and Hesston as well.
They are willing, he said, to pick up to go orders from restaurants, groceries or pretty much anything someone might need as long as whomever is in need of the delivery pays for those items first. Delivery by the volunteers is free.
“Anyplace here in town,” Hockett said. ”We also have a brother in Wichita, if there is a need there, we can look at that.“
The lodge posted a note to Facebook on Wednesday about the service — and that note spread quickly.
“This has been, by far, one of the biggest seen things that we have done (on Facebook),” Hockett said. “It is unsettling times. Things are unfolding on a minute-to-minute basis.”
The Newton Fire/EMS service makes use of off-duty firefighters who go shopping for senior citizens. The department launched a gofundme account in search of $1,000 in operational funds hit it in three hours.
One or two off-duty firefighters will deliver groceries to the porch of senior citizens, and, as long as there are funds available, they will cover the first $25 of the grocery order. Payment for groceries can be made upon delivery.