|Last year, George Hantgan marked 60 years of Super Sunday volunteering. With him from left are his daughter, Roberta Hantgan, his wife, Hon, and his grand-niece, Elizabeth Levi.|
“Give us a couple of hours,” says Howard Chernin, “and make a world of difference.”
Chernin chairs the Super Sunday telethon, the largest one-day fund raising event for the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.
Each year, Super Sunday raises around $1 million from 2,000 donors.
That is a lot of phone calls.
This Sunday, volunteers will be manning the phone lines – a hundred of them – once again.
And Chernin wants you to join the volunteers.
In particular, he is looking for people to help fill out the three-hour shifts that begin at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. He will be happy, however, to see you even at 9 a.m., or at the start of the noon shift, as well.
Chernin has been making Super Sunday calls for a decade now. It is not as hard as it may seem, he stresses. “You’re just talking to somebody. If you can talk to somebody, you can make a phone call,” he says.
“When you’ve got a person sitting next to you and they’re making the call, it makes you want to make the call. It makes you want to bring in something, whether it is $18 or $72 or whatever it is.”
Chernn says he is bringing his 16-year-old daughter to help make calls on Sunday. She will be joined by peers from the Bergen County High School of Jewish Studies, as well as a contingent of college students from Hillel.
In a four-minute training video (at http://www.jfnnj.org/SuperSunday), Chernin lays out the basics. It begins with the instruction to smile. “It will help you relax, and the other person, on the other end, will hear it in your voice,” he says.
Most of the calls go to people who have previously given to the federation. Not all of them, however. For one in 10 of last year’s Super Sunday responders, it was the first time they donated to the federation.
Chernin says that when the volunteers make the calls, they should be listening for signs that the person could benefit from assistance from the Jewish community.
“You’re going to hear stories, ‘I’d love to help you but my husband just lost his job.’ You should say, “By the way, if you need some help, we’re here to help you,'” and pass the call on to a representative of Jewish Family Services.
Volunteers who are afraid to talk to strangers are welcome, says Chernin, and can find ways to help, but “we really need those phone-callers.”
“Give me three hours of your Sunday, I’ll show you how to make a difference. You’ll walk out so positive and excited that you did something good.
“We’re helping adults living in assisted Jewish housing, Ethiopian teens, congregations and synagogue schools, day schools, seniors in the former Soviet Union. There’s so much that we’re doing using this money.
“In our Northern New Jersey community, there are so many families who need help. That’s what federation’s offices are all about, that’s what Jewish Family Service is about. We’re here to help you in time of need.
“This is the easiest way to give back. We’ll feed you, we’ll make you laugh, you’ll get a little tear in your eye talking to people,” he says. “This is a great day.”