2018-11-07 / Columns

You can make a difference in a family’s life during the holiday season

STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART
MARLA MEYERS
Executive Director, Jewish Family & Children’s Service

With hayrides, apple picking, and fall festivals behind us, it is hard to believe that the holiday season is quickly knocking at our front door. Many are beginning to plan for family gatherings, holiday parties, and gift giving. It is a joyful season that often fills us with happiness and gratitude. Yet, this is also the time of year when we can turn our attention to the needs of those less fortunate in our community.

For every dinner table overloaded with a festive meal, there is a family who does not have enough to eat. For every home filled with holiday gifts, there is a child who will be left empty-handed or may even be stuck in a hospital bed. While Jewish Family and Children’s Service addresses these issues throughout the year, we push even harder during the holiday season to ensure that as many of our neighbors as possible experience the comfort of a warm meal or the delight of a special gift.

Community food drives are a surefire way to help stock the shelves of our Betsy & Peter Fischer Food Pantries, which are dependent upon community donations. In September, we held our annual High Holiday Community Food Sort to organize food that had been collected by our local synagogues. We were provided with enough food to line our food pantry shelves for three to four months!

In addition to gathering food for our pantries, we will be holding our Thanksgiving Community Cooking Project where volunteers will be preparing, cooking, packaging, and delivering meals to seniors or individuals who are homebound for Thanksgiving. Imagine how grateful these people will be when they get their neatly packaged and nutritious meals delivered by smiling volunteers.

Food plays a huge part in the holidays, but for our younger neighbors, gifts can help bring a sense of normalcy to a time when nothing seems normal. From now until mid- December, we will be collecting gifts for children suffering from chronic or terminal illnesses in partnership with Chai Lifeline, as well as children whose families may not be able to provide the latest video game or Disney princess doll. When a child receives a toy unexpectedly, it helps to soften the harsh realities they and their families may be facing.

These opportunities for giving are also an excellent chance to bestow the gift of giving back upon yourself and your family. “There is no better exercise for the heart than when reaching down and helping someone up,” is a timeless quote by Bernard Meltzer that serves as a reminder that in serving others, we serve ourselves. Our hearts never receive as much joy as when we are giving.

We encourage everyone to grab an extra non-perishable food item or two at the grocery store or a small gift at the toy store. Donations may be dropped off at our main office located at 1301 Springdale Road, Suite 150, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003. If you’d like to “adopt a family” for the holidays, please contact Director of Volunteers Sherri Jonas, sjonas@jfedsnj.org

No matter how small you feel your donation may be, know that it will make a huge impact on your neighbors in need during this holiday season! To learn more visit www.jfcssnj.org 

mmeyers@jfedsnj.org

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