Thanks to generous donors, Jewish Family Service helped 115 families during Hanukkah 2018

by | Jan 21, 2019 | Other News

Now in its 26th year, Jewish Family Service of Tidewater’s Chanukah Gift Program helps local Jewish families in financial need with gifts and gift cards for their children, and VISA gift cards for those without children. During Hanukkah 2018, JFS received donations from individuals, families, groups, companies, organizations, congregations, and schools. Boxes were filled with new clothing, winter coats, boots, shoes, books, games, toys, craft kits, art supplies, school supplies, Judaic decorations, and Hanukkah wrapping paper/decorations.

One of the recipient thank-you notes received read: “Thank you for giving my granddaughter the best Hanukkah, ever! I would never have been able to make her dreams come true…this is one happy little girl! Her mother is so grateful, too!” Many of the families who seek help are active members of the local Jewish community who attend schools and temple with everyone else. Although gifts are collected during the Hanukkah holiday season, many are used all year by these same families.

“We request gifts that are needed by our families like school supplies, clothing, shoes, underwear, and winter coats. Our families need these items all year long, not just during the holiday season. We also ask for gifts of fun items such as toys, games, and books, so children and teens can have things for playtime,” says Maryann Kettyle, JFS special needs case manager.

“Our most challenging age group to find gifts for are pre-teens and teens. For these families, we ask for gift cards so the families can shop for themselves and pick out exactly what they want to have. We are able to give out so many wonderful gifts because of the generosity of so many donors,” says Kettyle.

The students, parents, and teachers from Strelitz Early Childhood Education Center and Hebrew Academy of Tidewater comprise one of the largest annual groups of donors—bringing in hundreds of gifts this year. Gifts, gift cards, and/or cash donations also came from many of the area religious schools, temples, and congregations.

This year, a total of 115 different local families (60 of whom were children and teens with specific wish lists) benefited from the program. Throughout 2019, these same families will continue to benefit from the donations as JFS provides gift cards towards medication, food, gas, clothing, and school supplies.

Help 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 and baby supplies, paper goods, and cleaning/household supplies.
  • Purchase Baskets of Hope centerpieces
  • Volunteer

All donations to JFS are tax deductible. For more information about any of these programs, contact Maryann Kettyle, special needs case manager, Jewish Family Service of Tidewater at 757-459-4640 or

A complete list of this year’s donors can be found on the JFS website:

If someone was inadvertently left off of this list, JFS says “thank you” and apologizes.

 By Debbie Mayer, LCSW