2018-09-12 / Columns

Volunteering this fall is great for both volunteers and those they help

Executive Director, Jewish Family & Children’s Service

Did you know that there are amazing positive and lasting effects of volunteerism? For instance, an article published on the Harvard Medical School website says, “Studies have shown that volunteering helps people who donate their time feel more socially connected, thus warding off loneliness and depression. Volunteering has positive implications that go beyond mental health. A growing body of evidence suggests that people who give their time to others might also be rewarded with better physical health—including lower blood pressure and a longer lifespan.” Doing good can be good for you!

At JFCS, our social services are significantly enhanced through the efforts of volunteers from throughout our community. How does JFCS help thousands in South Jersey? Much of the work we do for the community is fueled by hundreds of volunteers at our community service events throughout the year. In fact, we estimate that 750 people volunteer through the agency annually! They are truly the catalysts for many of the good works we do and they are amazing advocates for change.

Volunteerism is especially important as a practice during the High Holidays, as we reflect on our purpose and motivations for the year to come. Perhaps you would like to join JFCS for one of our upcoming volunteer activities. One volunteer at last year’s High Holiday Meal Delivery shared, “I felt like I was able to wrap together goodwill and well wishes to send to seniors during the holidays… My heart actually felt bigger knowing that the food I was helping to deliver would bring comfort to someone else, especially because so many of the recipients live alone.” During the week following Labor Day, volunteers, once again, delivered meals for those who are homebound.

Our Thanksgiving Cooking Project is already in the works for mid-November. This community effort will also create the same feeling of spirited giving and we hope you’ll join us for these wonderful mitzvot!

The joy your heart will feel is multiplied 10-fold when your good works are shared with loved ones, and we therefore encourage you to bring a family member or friend along during your next volunteer experience. The upcoming High Holiday Community Food Sort will be held on Sunday Sept. 23. Sponsored by WCRE, it is a wonderful way to involve your family. Participants of most ages can help sort, box, and transport generously-donated food from our local synagogues. These donations help to load the shelves of our Betsy and Peter Fischer Food Pantries and are of great relief to so many in our community.

One of the best teachings we can offer to our young people is to be of service to others, and the High Holiday Community Food Sort is one of those opportunities that beautifully blends quality family time with helping those in need.

The events listed are a wonderful way to get a “bite-size” portion of giving during the fall season. However, if you’d like a more regular schedule as a volunteer, we offer longer-term/ongoing opportunities as patient advocates through the Patient Partners program, drivers for our veterans’ Take the Wheel program, coaches and assistants for various special needs sports and recreational programs, support persons for our front office, and much, much more.

Please contact Sherri Jonas, director of volunteers, at (856) 424-1333, ext. 1180 or email sjonas@jfedsnj.org to register for any of our volunteering events for fall, or to become a long-term volunteer in another capacity.


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