There are many ways to lend a hand to help make the holiday season special and better for Louisvillians of all faiths. The Merry Mitzvah program makes it easy to volunteer and do your part.
For some families in the community, Chanukah is not such a festive time. Financial struggles can stifle the joy in the eyes of children who don’t get their usual Chanukah gifts.
Jewish Family & Career Services works hard to reverse that hardship with its Hanukah Helpers program and the Family Mitzvah Hanukah Party.
JFCS and Temple Shalom work together to gather gifts for families in need. Donors take a dreidel with a child’s age and gender from a giant chanukiah in Temple Shalom’s lobby and shop for those children.
JFCS will pick up the gifts, typically toys and clothing, from Temple Shalom on December 14, and will host the Family Mitzvah Hanukah Party at 1:30-2:30 p.m., in which families can come and help unload the truck and assemble the gifts to be distributed, said Beverly Bromley, marketing and development director for JFCS.
The Family Mitzvah Party will have music and dancing by the Ryan family and each participating family will receive a children’s book, A Chicken for Shabbat. There will be crafts, snacks, dreidels and gelt for the families.
Naomi Malka, case manager at JFCS, said there are 54 children in need of gifts this Chanukah, and the need increases every year.
“The families are always so surprised at how much they get and so grateful,” Malka said. “For many of their children, it wouldn’t be much of a holiday without the help. It makes such a difference.”
The Family Mitzvah program is supported by the Carole and Larry Goldberg Family Mitzvah Program, to provide intergenerational activities for families with children to make the world a better place.
Other Merry Mitzvah volunteer opportunities include serving meals at the Volunteers of America Family Emergency Shelter, providing clothes and toys to an immigrant family through Catholic Charities, collecting diapers and books for the Home of the Innocents and serving a holiday dinner to those with HIV and their families at the Interfaith Dinner at Central Presbyterian Church.
There are also many opportunities to volunteer your time on Christmas Day, such as spending time in the playroom at Volunteers of America, serving lunch at St. Vincent de Paul, Maryhurst and the Cathedral of the Assumption.
Last year, volunteers filled all the options available to them, said Amy Benovitz, program coordinator.
Amy Benovitz of JFCS and Rabbi David Ariel-Joel coordinate the program, which offers many options for families to participate. For more information on the Merry Mitzvah program, see the ad on page 24 or call 425-0373. For information on the Hanukah Helpers, call 425-6341.