2017-12-06 / Columns

Don’t be afraid to be bitten by the ‘kindness bug’ during the holidays

Executive Director, Jewish Family & Children’s Service

Whether we choose to volunteer for organizations, offer emotional support to a person struggling with a life event, or donate to a social services agency such as JFCS, we experience the gift that is giving. The miraculous impact of giving of ourselves is deeper than many of us comprehend. Being generous with your time, efforts, or donations are all linked to boosting physical and mental health. Health benefits associated with giving include lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, less depression, longer life span, and greater happiness.

We at JFCS know of many people who are reaping these beautiful benefits. We witnessed even more experiencing these “giving symptoms” just this past month, as they brought turkeys to our door—some 90 for our Rhona Fischer Family Assistance Clients—so that those in need could better enjoy a meal with their families. Over 100 volunteers of the JFCS Community-wide Thanksgiving Meal Project helped to cook, package, and deliver 328 meals to 107 JFCS clients and those who are homebound this holiday season. Many synagogues and organizations held food drives to help sustain our Betsy and Peter Fischer Food Pantries. While we are blessed to see this type of selflessness month in and month out—we never cease to be moved by the sheer passion of our volunteers, and of those who give to our agency and its programs in other ways.

Case in point: As this column was being written, a roster was just finalized of those who donated their time and talents to the Chai Lifeline Gift Wrapping event on Dec. 3, to prepare gifts for a holiday party for children who are terminally or chronically ill. Other kind friends throughout the community are picking up an extra toy, gift card or item to contribute to our holiday gift drive that continues through mid-December.

If you’d like information on upcoming volunteer opportunities, please visit our website at www.jfcssnj.org/ volunteer-opportunities. People like you are the reason we continue to do the work we do for the most vulnerable in our neighborhoods. If you would like to contribute a year-end tax-deductible donation, become an agency donor, create a tribute card, or become an in-kind donor, you can also visit www.jfcssnj.org/giving.

Sometimes, though, the way you give back can be as simple as sharing your voice. You can relay your positive experiences with our agency by bringing awareness to others of the importance of social services in our community.

You can share your story with us, so that others can understand how they, too, may be helped. If you have volunteered, with your family or through a partner organization, how did it make you feel? Perhaps you connected with a senior at a Café Europa Holocaust Survivor Luncheon or at a Café Connection Memory Café, and it moved your heart and soul? We’d like to know. Just maybe, you have experienced the joy of knocking on someone’s door, and handing over to them a catered meal from our Senior Services Department, and saw the warm smile of their gratitude. We want to hear you. Did you see the sparkle in the eye of a young adult, as a JFCS Special Olympics coach? Please, tell us. You can drop us a line at communityrelations@jfedsnj.org.

The health effects of giving are contagious, and we can’t wait to see more of our friends and neighbors bit by the bug of kindness, for which we hope there is no cure. s mmeyers@jfedsnj.org

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