Nechama rallies volunteers in the aftermath of Irene
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Nechama rallies volunteers in the aftermath of Irene

4th Mitzvah Day will help prepare elderly for emergencies

Nov. 6 is the date scheduled for Mitzvah Day, when the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey encourages community members to roll up their sleeves and help their neighbors.

This year, the federation expects more than 1,300 volunteers at some 35 locations, said Alice Blass, who coordinates Mitzvah Day and other volunteer-based programs of the federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council.

One new program this year – planned before Hurricane Irene – is the assembly of emergency care kits for the homebound elderly to have on hand in case of blizzard or hurricane, said Blass.

The kits will include such supplies as flashlights and easy-to-open containers of non-perishable food items.

Mitzvah Day is expanding into new regions. For the first time, said Blass, the federation will assemble volunteers in Hoboken, where they will work in the city’s emergency food pantry.

Another new mitzvah venue is the Buckingham at Norwood, a nursing home with a section that serves the Korean community.

“The Korean population in Bergen County is growing by leaps and bounds,” said Miriam Allenson, director of marketing services for the federation. “We thought that this was an important population to reach out to.”

“It’s an opportunity for leaders of the two groups to get to know each other,” Blass added.

“We view Mitzvah Day as an entree to try to whet people’s appetites, so they will continue their volunteering during the year and not limit it to one day,” said Allenson. “We’ve had success stories of schools who have continued visiting institutions, of individuals who have signed on to be more regular volunteers at institutions.”

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