Alice Blass, coordinator of UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey’s 11th annual Mitzvah Day, is clearly pleased with the success of the Nov. 2 event, which brought out some 1,400-1,500 volunteers.
“We don’t have all the figures yet,” she said, “but the results are impressive.”
“This was an opportunity for the UJA to go out and benefit the community,” said Blass, UJA’s Get Connected coordinator. “It’s all about working together to build bridges and to make the world a better place.”
Blass said that one Mitzvah Day volunteer brought his family to participate in the event because – rather than celebrate his birthday with a party -he wanted to spend the day doing mitzvot for others.
Volunteers at one site collected hundreds of books as well as baby items and Chanukah toys to be sent to Israel. In two other drives, said Blass, “we collected 58 pints of blood and signed up 13 persons for the National Bone Marrow Registry.”
At the Fair Lawn Jewish Center/Cong. B’nai Israel – where volunteers packed up supplies for American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan – site coordinators Mark Meisel and Barbara Seiden supervised the 50 volunteers who filled corrugated boxes with non-perishable foods and personal care items. Helping the effort were four members of George Fredman Jewish War Veterans Post 76 in North Bergen.
Meisel told The Jewish Standard, “Things are going fabulously today. We have the addresses for some soldiers, and when they receive these packages, they will share the contents with others…. We’re looking forward to doing this again next year.”
The Bonim (Builders), under the direction of Stacey Orden, site captain, helped landscape the campus of the Daughters of Miriam Center/Gallen Institute in Clifton, raking leaves and planting shrubs and trees.
Fred Feinstein, executive director of the center, noted that volunteers were “doing a phenomenal job. The Bonim group is dedicated, and we’re fortunate to have them here. What they do benefits our tenant and resident population.”
The Daughters of Miriam also sponsored a carnival for its residents and tenants, with stuffed animals as prizes. Volunteers assisted those in wheelchairs and operated all the games and amusements.
The Bergen County High School For Jewish Studies Dance Troupe performed at the Federation Apartments, in Paterson, where about 30 tenants were entertained with Israeli, Turkish, and Spanish dances.
Eleanor Kohn, director of tenant services, said “the dancers showed those seated in chairs how to ‘dance’ with their hands. The tenants appreciated the entertainment and want them [to come] back.”
The Mitzvah Fair For Families at the Solomon Schechter Day School in New Milford offered a variety of service opportunities. One group of youngsters decorated bookcases to be used in the Pediatric Unit of Valley Hospital.
For information on ongoing volunteer opportunities, call Blass at (201) 820-3948.
See Mitzvah Day photos at http://www.jstandard.com/index.php/photogallery/C5