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The Newton Masonic Lodge has hatched a plan of how to aid others during the COVID-19 outbreak that has led to the shuttering of school buildings and community closures seemingly everywhere a person turns.


A group of 15 members are about to become the community delivery drivers — there should be two to three drivers available when needed. They will supplement volunteer delivery services in town — Newton Fire/EMS launched a service for senior citizens this week.


The Masons are not limited to serving senior citizens, and 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 are 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."


For groceries, contact Hockett at 316-281-5053 or Jay Area at 620-217-6198 to set a delivery time, then submit a grocery list online or through store apps, paying for them that way. Once paid, a lodge member can pick up the groceries and deliver them.


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 — and that goal was hit 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.


For more information on the Fire/EMS program, call 316-284-6199 or email meghanrupp@newtonfireems.com