JFS Chanukah Gift Program helps local families

by | Nov 10, 2016 | Other News

Debbie Mayer, LCSW, CT

Written on behalf of a local Jewish Family Service client:

Two years ago, my family moved to Virginia to care for an elderly relative. Once we got here, the job I was promised didn’t come through. I decided to stay here with my two children anyway, so we moved in with our elderly uncle. Soon after, he became very ill and I stayed home to help care for him. He had many unpaid bills himself.

I’ve never had to ask for help before. It was very hard for me to make that first call to Jewish Family Service and ask for money. I swallowed my pride and kept my appointment with the JFS case manager. She could not have been more welcoming. While I was there, JFS took some of our bills and got them paid. She also offered to help with gifts for my children. She explained that with Hanukkah coming in a few months, JFS had numerous, very generous donors and that we could get gifts for my children, including needed clothes, school supplies, toys, and books. So I went home and prepared a wish list of clothes, winter coats, hats, scarves, dolls, games, and books for my 8- and 10-year-old daughters. JFS called me in late November to set up a time to pick up the gifts for my children.

Imagine my surprise to find that people I didn’t know had filled large boxes with gifts for my girls. My girls got everything on their wish lists and more! JFS even gave me Hanukkah wrapping paper, ribbons, and decorations so that I could be part of the gift experience for them. That really was important to me so I could personalize each gift they opened.

To all who helped my family last year or will be helping again this year: “Thanks so much for helping me make my daughters’ Hanukkah great. I’m a single parent and it’s still very hard to make ends meet. It brings tears to my eyes knowing there are people who really care about others they don’t even know. When I win the lottery I’ll become a donor, too, so I can make other families feel this great!”

The 24th Annual Chanukah Gift Program

Jewish Family Service of Tidewater’s annual Chanukah Gift Program, which provides holiday gifts to local Jewish children and teens in financially struggling families, begins this month. JFS asks the community to continue its tradition of helping. JFS expects to serve more than 80 different local Jewish children and teens this year.

The wish list for these children and teens is long. For donors this is an opportunity to do a mitzvah for children who have no choice in their families’ financial situation.

How to help

• Purchase new, unwrapped gifts for specific children and teens in need. Donors may call JFS at 757- 459-4640 for children’s wish lists starting Nov. 11.

• When shopping, buy some extra items for those in need.

• Send JFS gift cards from local department stores, electronics stores, music stores, and grocery stores, so that families can shop themselves.

• Send JFS a tax-deductible cash donation, and JFS will do the shopping.

Hanukkah donations must be received by Friday, Dec. 2. Make checks payable to Jewish Family Service and send to JFS, Attn: Maryann Kettyle, 5000 Corporate Woods Drive, Suite 400, Virginia Beach, VA 23462.

Jewish Family Service assists local Jewish families in need all year and keeps surplus donations for use throughout 2016-2017. For more information, contact Maryann Kettyle, at JFS: 757-59-4640 or MKettyle@jfshamptonroads.org.