This spring marked the launch of "Mitzvah Week," a new collaboration between JUF's Tikkun Olam Volunteer (TOV) Network and Solomon Schechter Day School to bring volunteerism to the entire student body. The initiative was created to bring Jewish values to life and inspire students from learning toward action. Mitzvah Week kicked off on Yom Hashoah, propelling students to make the world a better place in memory of all those who perished in the Holocaust.
Whether making sandwiches for local shelters, sorting food at the Northern Illinois Food Bank, learning about sustainability with Pushing the Envelope Farm, building benches for JCC, or donating birthday gifts to CJE residents, the week was action packed and the impact profound.
Each grade did service projects tailored to their age:
Grades K-2: donated 256 birthday bags to CJE SeniorLife; and planted 289 trees, whose fruit will be donated to Northern Illinois Food Bank.
Grades 3-4: Made 307 sandwiches for four local agencies: Lincoln Park Community Shelter, Inspiration Corporation, A Just Harvest and Connections for the Homeless; created 100 birthday and various greeting cards to these shelters; and decorated 100 cookies for Temple Sholom's Monday Meal
Grades 5-8: Collectively provided 28,680 meals to their hungry neighbors at the Northern Illinois Food Bank
Grade 7: Built and painted 15 benches with Jewish themes for the JCC's Camp Chi.
In partnership with Young Family Programming and Teen TOV, TOV designed meaningful service projects for each grade. To augment Mitzvah Week, collection drives were coordinated to help stock our agencies with critical supplies.
For more information about TOV, www.juf.org/tov.
Yael Brunwasser is director of Volunteer Services (TOV) for the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago.