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Just last year, Sarah escaped from a decade-long, abusive relationship with the father of her two young children. She was finally making ends meet on her own when she lost her retail job due to the pandemic. Sarah called JFCS in tears, worried that her sons—who had already experienced so much pain and trauma—now would not even have enough to eat.
Sarah is one of thousands of people struggling to afford the cost of food and basic essentials who have called JFCS for help since the start of the pandemic. In fact, the need for food in our community is now 10 times higher than before the start of COVID-19. JFCS’ Food Banks must provide over 10,000 meals a month to individuals and families in need.
With the demand only growing, JFCS’ Annual High Holiday Food Drive is more important than ever. Many incredible synagogues, schools, and community organizations across the Bay Area are taking part in this effort. Here are two inspiring stories of our community’s youngest members doing their part to collect food for those most in need.
The Tikkun Olam Club
The Brandeis School of San Francisco has been one of the greatest contributors to JFCS’ Annual High Holiday Food Drive for years. But with distance learning leaving the school often empty this fall, the members of the Brandeis Parent Association knew that they needed a creative solution in order to collect enough food for those in need.
Thus was born the Tikkun Olam Club—a fun and focused program that creates meaningful, impactful, and safe activities for families to participate in during these strange and socially distanced times.
Brandeis parent Alanna Klein, who co-chairs JFCS’ Food Bank in San Francisco with fellow volunteers Stephanie Lauter and Dahlia Topkis, has seen firsthand the exploding demand for assistance. Knowing that thousands of people are in urgent need of food and essentials, the Tikkun Olam Club is focusing its activities this school year on addressing food insecurity and hunger.
To do this, they have successfully rallied families around both donating food—collecting a whopping 500 pounds of food for the JFCS High Holiday Food Drive—and volunteering as JFCS Food Runners to deliver groceries to the doorsteps of the elderly, sick, and disabled.
Alanna values the educational experience her two young daughters are having as part of the Tikkun Olam Club. “I think the most important thing for children—and everyone—to realize is how little acts of kindness can have a big impact in someone’s life,” she says.
Going the Extra Mile
Eighth-grader Eytan Goldhaber-Fiebert, who attends Gideon Hausner Day School in Palo Alto, was so inspired by his school’s participation in JFCS’ High Holiday Food Drive that he started his own GoFundMe campaign to help. Eytan wanted to make sure that everyone in the community—including older adults and those who are isolated due to the pandemic—had enough to eat. He also wanted to make sure that everyone who wanted to help had a way to contribute.
Eytan says, “I saw that people, like my grandparents, wanted to help with the JFCS Food Drive but couldn’t buy items for it because of COVID-19. I wanted to help people fulfill the mitzvah of tzedakah while also helping others eat, a basic human need.”
After successfully reaching his impressive fundraising goal, Eytan used the funds to personally purchase food for his local JFCS Food Bank. Thanks to Eytan’s generosity and spirit, more families like Sarah’s will receive essential food and groceries, as well as the knowledge that they are not alone.
A Happier Place for All
Sarah’s fears have been eased since that tearful phone call. She immediately began receiving weekly groceries from the JFCS Food Bank—each bag filled with nutritious choices, thanks to thoughtful donations from the community. Sarah also received emergency financial assistance to help make ends meet while she searches for a new job. Her sons are thriving in counseling from JFCS’ Center for Children and Youth.
Knowing that her children have what they need as she gets back on her feet and that she is truly cared for by her community has made an incredible difference for Sarah.
As Alanna says, “If we all take a couple minutes to care every day, we can make our community stronger and the world a happier place.”
Help is still needed! Your donations ensure that JFCS can stock our Food Banks and provide food to struggling members of our community.
JFCS’ High Holiday Food Drive runs through October 11. Donate now >