Special to The Message
We’ve all heard the saying “Two heads are better than one.” April’s Youth of the Month winners took teamwork (and sisterhood) to the next level, by creating over 250 masks for healthcare workers, while stuck at home during COVID-19.
Sydney Kleiman (junior) and Sophie Kleiman (sophomore) are students at Mater Dei High School; and like others their age across the globe, they have been homebound during the pandemic. They decided to work together, with the help of their mom, to create and sew masks as a project to help others during this time.
The sisters first began making masks to help out their family members who were ill.
“We have a grandma with breast cancer and a grandpa that recently had a liver transplant. They both needed masks, so it started there,” Sydney said.
Once each of the girls discovered which tasks they excelled at, they started creating masks in an assembly-line fashion.
“Sophie cuts the fabric and elastic and later flips them inside out,” said Sydney. “I sew and pin. My mom sews, too. We all know how to do each step, but we found our strengths and formed an assembly line based on them to produce more at a faster rate.”
They make their masks according to the guidelines provided by the CDC and Deaconess. Although they first donated the masks to family and friends, they now donate through Sew and Serve, which takes requests locally and fulfills them.
“This is a tough time for every person in the world, but together these two sisters are making a positive impact on our community and others around us. They are helping many people in health care and others feel safe during these times of uncertainty, and bringing joy to others who are in quarantine,” said Mary Goedde, who nominated the sisters for Youth of the Month.
Both girls learned to sew from their mother and grandmother. They have perfected their skills through lots of practice, as well as their involvement in 4H and Girl Scouts.
When asked how they stay motivated with their mask-sewing project and school, both seem to keep a goal-oriented schedule throughout the day. They wake up and focus on doing their school work first, then they are able to dedicate the rest of their day to service projects, as well as fun activities like hanging outdoors, playing with their dogs, and watching TV.
Aside from mask-making, Sydney and Sophie have written and mailed cards for nursing home residents, created palm door hangers for neighbors for Palm Sunday and Easter, donated food, and created scrub caps for area health care professionals.
“They have really managed to turn their quarantine into a time of helping and serving others,” said Mary.
The sisters, 18 months apart in age, both said it’s been helpful having a sibling to share this time with.
“Quarantine has been a lot easier with having a sibling so close in age,” said Sydney. “We hang out together a lot and help each other with homework. Sophie is one of the funniest people I know, so it is definitely beneficial to be quarantined together, even though we do argue and annoy each other sometimes.”
“We have actually had time to ride bikes together and play cards. We don’t usually have time for either of those, so having Sydney to do things with has made things a lot easier,” said Sophie.
When asked how they are staying positive during this time, Sydney mentioned connecting online with friends, doing fun stuff with her family and continuing her bible studies.
“I can’t wait to have sleepovers with my best friends, go out to eat, travel, and go cheer on my sister at her games. I am definitely her No. 1 fan!” said Sydney.
Sophie, who is heavily involved in sports, has been practicing volleyball and softball outside, and staying active by riding her bike and occasionally participating in a spontaneous dance party.
“I am really looking forward to playing softball and travel volleyball again!” said Sophie.
Sydney is a member of Youth Resources’ TAC EXEC and serves as an Outreach Co-Chair. She is the Secretary for Stevenson 4H Club and a 9-year 4H member, and serves as a 4H camp counselor. She is a member of Mater Dei’s Pep Club Exec, Service Club, Dance Marathon, TEENPOWER, and Peer Mediation. She was awarded the St. Maria Goretti Youth Distinction.
Sophie plays softball and volleyball for Mater Dei and on Metro Volleyball National team and Indiana Dreams Softball team. She is the Treasurer for Stevenson 4H Club and an 8-year 4H member. She is a member of Mater Dei’s Pep Club, Service Club, Dance Marathon, and Fresh Beginnings.
Both attend Good Shepard Catholic Parish.
“I have known Sydney & Sophie for the past six years through my ministry as pastor at Good Shepherd Catholic Parish. Both are wonderful role models for their family and friends. I pray that they will continue to grow in their Catholic faith and continue to share their talents with our extended Evansville community,” said Rev. Zachary J. Etienne, pastor at Good Shepard.