Chloe Colwyn's bat mitzvah date was set for April 4. But when the COVID-19 crisis forced her to postpone her plans, she found the inspiration and maturity to help others on what was supposed to be her special day.
"She decided instead of being sad and focusing on her disappointment that she would help those in need," said Kim Colwyn, Chloe's mother.
The Deerfield family put out feelers to determine where their help could be most useful, and decided to create bags for the West Deerfield Township Food Pantry. Chloe reached out to family and friends to get donations of food and money and went to the grocery store to collect the necessary items for each bag. Chloe and her dad, Bill Colwyn, then delivered the bags to the pantry, where they were distributed to families and individuals in need.
"We are proudly helping over 40 families and individuals who need to be helped," Chloe said. "It made me feel so good to give to other people."
In addition to the food pantry project, Chloe learned from her rabbi, Karyn Kedar, Senior Rabbi of Congregation B'nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim, about Sedgebrook Senior Living Community, where residents were placed in lockdown due to the virus. Chloe and her friends assembled 20 snack bags for residents and made handmade cards to brighten the residents' days, which she and her mother delivered.
We've been really proud about the way she has handled [the change of plans]. It's a good lesson," Kim said. "Anytime you go through something difficult in your life, if you can't come out of it becoming a better person or learning more, you've missed a great opportunity."
"The thing that mattered to me the most is that the littlest things can make the biggest impact," Chloe added. "Even if someone donated something small, it could impact someone's whole life. A tiny bit of kindness can go a long way."