Baltimore Jewish Community Comes Out For JVC Mitzvah Day
By: Rochelle Eisenberg
As the line snaked around the auditorium at the Weinberg Park Heights Jewish Community Center, hundreds of volunteers wove their way down tables lined with water bottles, winter hats and other warm winter accessories. Carefully, they filled bag after bag with these items, adding snacks, toothbrushes and other accessories.
Meanwhile, at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC, young families assembled similar winter care packages to deliver to the Hannah More Shelter in Reisterstown. In addition, hundreds diligently made candy goodie bags and signed birthday cards that would accompany birthday presents for the Scary Mommy Nation Birthday Project. The presents went to children in need who otherwise wouldn’t receive a gift.
On Tuesday, December 25, 2012 the community came together for the eighth Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) Community Mitzvah Day. Together, these volunteers took part in acts of kindness for the greater Baltimore community. JVC is a program of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.
When it was all over, more than 1,000 volunteers were involved with Mitzvah Day, whether they were helping out at the area JCCs, preparing and serving dinner at shelters and soup kitchens, or engaging individuals at nursing homes, special needs programs and group homes. More than 1,500 winter care packages were assembled and an estimated 20 carloads were transported to homeless shelters and soup kitchens throughout Baltimore City and County.
“It always feels good to volunteer in the community, but there is something extra special about doing a mitzvah during the holiday season. To know that we, as a community coming together, have the potential to put a smile on someone’s face who is facing difficult times is a truly precious holiday gift,” said Jodi Elkin.
There was even a basketball shoot-a-thon, led by Diller Fellows, to raise money for The Associated’s annual campaign, Teen Giving Initiative and the community of Sandy Hook. And, a donor registry recruitment drive with the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, garnered more than 40 new volunteer registrants hoping to save lives.
As the volunteers assembled winter care packages for adults and separate ones featuring stuffed teddy bears for children --as they prepared stacks of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches -- there was an overwhelming sense of purpose.
“It’s beautiful to see the community, young and old as well as families and couples, take time off from their busy schedules to make the lives of those in need a little brighter,” said Dayna Leder of JVC.