In its 20th year, Jewish Family Service’s Chanukah Gift Program asked the community to contribute gifts, gift cards, and money during this past Chanukah holiday to help local Jewish families in need. JFS received donations from individuals, families, groups, companies, organizations, congregations, and schools. Boxes filled with new clothing, books, games, toys, electronics, bicycles, school supplies, and Judaic items filled JFS’ offices.
JFS’s annual Chanukah Gift and Financial Assistance Program reaches local Jewish families who are struggling financially. Many of the families are active members of the local community who attend schools and temples with everyone else. The need for help has grown over the years and JFS is gratified that donors have continuously kept up with these needs by their willingness to contribute.
One of the largest annual group donors are the students, parents, and teachers from Strelitz Early Childhood Center and Hebrew Academy of Tidewater. JFS also received carloads of gifts and/or cash donations from many of the area religious schools, temples, and congregations.
This year, a total of 133 different families, consisting of 337 people, benefited at Chanukah time due to the kindness of local community donors. Specific gifts and gift cards were provided to 53 local Jewish families with children/teens, consisting of 102 children and teens. Throughout 2013, these same families will continue to benefit from the donations given at Chanukah time as JFS provides gift cards towards medication, food, gas, clothing, and school supplies. Below are some of the thank you notes JFS has received this year:
“There are not enough words to express how wonderful you have been to my family for the Jewish holidays. You picked up where I wasn’t able to this year and made my children’s Chanukah so very special, and incredibly memorable.”
“Thank you so much for donating presents to us. It was so generous of you to think of us during this special time of year. Your gifts made our Hanukah very special this year!”
“We say todah rabbah to you. Thank you and may you be blessed with naches and mitzvot. Thank you for helping my children have a Happy Hanukkah in 2012.”
“Thank you for your generous donations to my family for this Hannukah season. My daughter’s eyes lit up when she saw the toys and other gifts. I don’t know what I would have done this holiday without you. A thousand blessings upon all who donated. Hopefully next year we can be on the giving end.”
To assist JFS help local Jewish families in need year-round:
• Donate food, gas and grocery store gift cards, or cash;
• Support the JFS Special Needs Group activities;
• Donate: grocery bags; toiletries, cosmetics, bath and body products; Judaic/Jewish items; school supplies; baby supplies; paper goods; and cleaning/household supplies;
• Purchase Baskets of Hope centerpieces
• Join Hebrew Ladies Charity Society (HLCS) or invest in the HLCS Endowment Fund; and
Donations to JFS are tax deductible. For more information about these programs, contact Emily Bettendorf, special needs case manager, Jewish Family Service of Tidewater at 757- 459-4640 or Ebettendorf@jfshamptonroads.org.
by Debbie Mayer, LCSW