Volunteer Voices

MLK day is a time I stop and recall every year we can’t take freedom for granted and how important it is to speak up for what you believe in. I use this day to volunteer and give back which is why I am so happy to chair this day at JVC

Dara Schnee - Chair of JVC’s MLK Day

Now that it’s fall, every morning the first thing I do from my kitchen window is to check the bird feeder to see if there are birds nibbling away. If so, a big smile appears on my face with wonderment. Watching them munch hungrily brings me much satisfaction, knowing that they can fly away having had a full breakfast. From its beginning, Krieger Schechter Day School has served as a model and forerunner of G’Milut Hasadim, performing acts of kindness. I can remember as a teacher how our students were reminded to bring in an extra lunch for the weekly collection and donation to Manna House. Observing the Mitzvah of Feeding the Hungry represents the essence of Judaism and is one of the highest Mitzvot, as we are commanded first and foremost to Save a Life, Pikuach Nefesh. Securing sustenance for those who do not have sufficient nutrition is paramount. This religious teaching has always resonated with me. Every day, in the Ashrei prayer we recite “Open your hand, You satisfy with contentment all that lives”. When I decided to volunteer for Bunches of Lunches, to continue the KSDS tradition, I realized how meaningful it was to prepare the sandwiches and goodies that I included. I would think about how the children or adults could benefit from my small gesture. Imagine how thrilled I was when 100 lunches or more made their way to my trunk and front and back car seats! There was also a need to transport the lunches to the recipients throughout the city. I chose the Grace Foundation.. I met Carmen Alexander, the coordinator for Grace Baptist Church who receives the food donations and arranges for them to be distributed. . Carmen is a most dedicated volunteer who also chairs Alexander Youth Works and is an educator at a local university. I immediately recognized Carmen’s dedication and the meaningful role she fulfilled. As Carmen and I got to know one another through our weekly visits, we began to communicate a bit about our common concerns for our community. As I reflect on our encounters, I realize how important it is to connect with our fellow extended neighbors. We share a common purpose-helping to assist, even in a small way, in improving the lot of the residents of our city and wider community. We must know about the other and find ways to come together for the betterment of all of us. Especially during this challenging time, one approach to improving the present situation is to reach out to people outside of our immediate community. I feel very fortunate that Carmen and I share this common bond and that we find gratification in our common goal. We rejoice at the sight of a fully packed car and we don’t even mind scheppling the heavy bags a few feet!!

Rita Plaut, Bunches of Lunches Volunteer and Delivery Driver

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