MY JVC STORY A core group of Community Mitzvah Day committee members have organized and managed the winter care package assembly at JVC’s signature site for many years. These are some of their stories.
ALAN ELKIN About 15 years ago when my daughter was in high school, she went to the Ukraine on a mission with other Jewish teens through the Associated. It was a great experience. Not long after she returned, she continued to stay involved and learned about the upcoming Mitzvah Day. She told me that she had volunteered and that I should join her. It was an opportunity I would not miss, spending some quality time with my daughter while volunteering for a good cause. This is when I first met Ashley and Erica. The work on Mitzvah Day did not disappoint. I found that I was energized by the experience and was inspired to work to make it even better the following year. The JVC team does an amazing job during the year to pull off Mitzvah Day and the other days of service each year. Now, 15 years later I still have that same satisfaction each time. Every year, my only regret is that we can't help even more people on a more frequent basis. Last year and this year have been especially rewarding. As so many things were shutting down, and people were being discouraged from getting together, the JVC staff and volunteers still figured out ways, on short notice and with several uncertainties, to pull off the Mitzvah Day commitment, to provide to those in need during the holiday.
JIM SCHWARTZ I participate in JVC’s Mitzvah Day main activity by helping fill thousands of Winter Care bags for various Community Groups who request the bags to distribute to individuals they service. As a teacher, most of my time is engaged very closely to the students and many of their families. With limited time, I get tremendous gratitude helping so many! I participate several times within each year such as MLK Day activities, community cleanup events, incorporate service to my greater community with my in town Congregation. To me, when I start preparing to gather items for Mitzvah Day events, my excitement starts to build and doesn’t end with this major event, but pushes my gratification to continue to give back through activities in my community!
Over a year ago now, Beth Tfiloh students and teachers, along with most people in the world, stopped their daily duties-school, work, etc.- and headed home. To no one’s knowledge, we would end up staying home for a long, long, time. However, we are fortunate enough to have these homes to stay at while many homeless people are suffering more than ever during the pandemic.
As my friends and I began adjusting to life during Covid-19, we knew it was time to lend our hands to those in need. The perfect idea came to mind: Bunches of Lunches.
Since my elementary school days at Krieger Schechter Day School, I have been involved with the Bunches of Lunches program. Every month, my classmates and I would bring home-made lunches to school and drop them off in boxes in the school lobby. I still have vivid memories of people from the JVC coming to our school to promote the program and explain its impact. At the time, I never thought too much about the significance of making those lunches. I just did it because everyone else did. However, looking back now, I recognize how much this program has influenced my character and interests.
Throughout my years in high school, I sought out opportunities to help out the greater Baltimore community. On multiple occasions for example, I led my grade in making lunches for the homeless for Thanksgiving. I really found a love for helping out others. So, when the pandemic emerged, I knew I wanted to help out more than ever.
This past year, Bunches of Lunches has been the perfect opportunity to connect different groups in my small community in Pikesville, and the greater Baltimore community. Having once just made a lunch or two a month as a young child, I now have the opportunity, along with friends and classmates, to act as volunteers and collect lunches from others in a safe way during COVID-19. Going back to my roots at Schechter, I believe this was the perfect way to cap off my senior year in high school.
I’m very thankful for the JVC and the relationship that my school Beth Tfiloh built with them. I hope we continue collecting lunches and making an impact in Baltimore!