Baltimore, MD – Dec. 28, 2015 - Many in the Jewish community were off on December 25 and as they poured into the Weinberg Park Heights JCC, they had one thing in mind. On this unseasonably warm Friday in December, they, and their families, had come out to help those in need throughout Baltimore City and County.
As they filed around the long tables in the JCC auditorium, they filled bag after bag with a combination of winter scarves, hats, socks, toiletries, food and other items. Two thousand of these winter care packages were later distributed to people in need throughout the community.
On this Friday before Shabbat, more than a thousand Baltimoreans came together to take part in Jewish Volunteer Connection’s (JVC) 10th annual Community Mitzvah Day. In addition to compiling winter care packages, they made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, blankets, cards and other crafted gifts to give to those in need.
This year, Mitzvah Day stretched out over two days, December 24 and 25. In addition to the happenings at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC, Community Mitzvah Day offered volunteer opportunities at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC and throughout the Baltimore community. Volunteers served meals at area soup kitchens, socialized and served food to the elderly and delivered food for organizations such as Moveable Feast.
“I’ve been a participant for the past several years,” added Stephanie Ezra, who was a 10th anniversary JVC Community Mitzvah Day committee member. “It’s such a great idea to give back and help thousands of people.”
For the first time since she’s been coming, Ezra decided to bring her entire family to Mitzvah Day. Among other activities, they staffed Meals on Wheels tables, encouraging other volunteers decorate placemats and picture frames that would be given to the elderly who receive meals.
“It’s beautiful to see the Jewish community – young and old – families and couples – take time off from their busy schedules to make the lives of those in need a little brighter,” said Ashley Pressman, JVC’s executive director. JVC is a program of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.
As for Ezra, Community Mitzvah Day was a perfect way to spend a day off.
“My family loved the experience,” she added. “They are now asking me to find other volunteer opportunities for them to participate in.”
JVC’s next large day of service is on Monday, January 18 as part of the MLK, Jr. National Day of Service. JVC also offers volunteer opportunities for individuals and families throughout the year.