When Mackenize Martens joined STAND, she did not think sewing would be a project the group would take on.


But then again, at the time she joined at the beginning of the school year, COVID-19 was not shutting down businesses and burdening health care facilities.


“I knew I wanted to be involved in leadership and I did not know what that would pop up,” Martens told the Kansan. “I was excited when sewing came up as a project because I have experience in that and it is something I love to do.”


The freshman from Berean Academy put packets together for students who do not have experience sewing. The group purchased fabrics locally and is working to sew 50 protective caps for staff at Newton Medical Center.


Martens plans to sew about 20 caps. There are, at this time, six members of STAND and three adults who are working on the project — and the intention is to deliver caps on Friday.


“This is a great way to involve kids — when we don’t have a lot going on right now — in the community, and do something constructive,” Martens said.


STAND, sponsored by Mirror Inc., is a “social norms” group. It is formed of school students who participate in creating educational activities and projects to promote a drug-free lifestyle.


The project came out of meetings with D-Fy coalition meetings through Mirror, when the hospital expressed a need for surgical caps. Organizer Benjamin Meier took that to students.


From there, funding was found to purchase materials from local businesses and make packets.


“Along with that, kids within the projects and some outside of that project, are filling out some tags to put on those caps,” Meier said. “They are writing positive messages and thank yous to those essential personnel. We’ll attach those once they are finished.”


Meier was not taken by surprise by the need, his mother has sewn more than 1,000 masks — which are being distributed in downtown Newton through Norms by donations.


STAND messages will be attached to those masks, as well.


This is, however, new ground for STAND.


“When all of this started to happen, I started to think ’great, now I don’t have anything to do,’ ” Meier said. “(Mirror staff member) Des (Martens) and I met and talked about how we can be creative during this time and fill some needs.“


That was an “a ha” moment.


“I love being creative, and the reason I am doing this job is to help meet community needs and make an impact no matter what is going on,” Meier said. “We chose as an organization, and the STAND kids ... chose to look at this as an opportunity to do something different.”


STAND has groups in every school in Harvey County, and cap project members from across the county are participating.


Students meet through online video services and communicate through text as they work on the project.


“It is cool that there are kids from all over the county that are contributing and sewing individually,” Meier said. “A few of them said ’I do not know how to sew, but I am sure my mom can help me.’ This is bringing families together, as well.”