His mom, Stephanie, tells the story of when Caleb was three years old he saw a homeless person and was genuinely concerned about why there wasn’t a place for him to live. He used to say that when he grows up he wants to be “rich enough to buy a hotel so homeless people have a place to live.” The plight of the homeless stayed on his mind until he was nine years old and saw a commercial for a company that would allow him to design a t-shirt to promote and raise money for his cause. Caleb immediately wanted to do this to help the homeless. He did and ultimately raised $2,000 for the Norfolk Emergency Shelter Team (NEST) program at Congregation Beth El.
Along with his family, Caleb also serves as a volunteer for NEST and likes to engage the participants—even starting a festive conga line on one occasion. And while volunteering is important, Caleb understands that fundraising is essential. “It was a special moment when I got to see how much money I made and was able to give to a charity and see it make a difference,” he says.
While Caleb enjoyed his bar mitzvah a few months ago, especially getting to spend time with cousins and relatives who are scattered around the country, he says he is relieved that he doesn’t have to spend the time preparing for it anymore. “I like to hang out with my friends, and I play basketball, soccer, and lacrosse, so I was really busy.”
Given his prior involvement in philanthropy, it was natural for Caleb to start a B’nai Tzedek Teen Philanthropy Fund through Tidewater Jewish Foundation when he became Bar Mitzvah. Caleb says he intends to use his fund to continue to help homeless people through the NEST program.
The B’nai Tzedek program encourages teens to become involved in tzedakah by establishing a philanthropic fund in their name. Contact Barb Gelb at email@example.com or 757-965-6105 to learn more about establishing a fund.
– Barb Gelb