Service Opportunities & Events

Make an Impact with YouthFirst

Connect with teens from around the Bay Area as we address a range of challenges/issues facing our communities. Through advocacy projects and service-learning events, you can help make a difference through your actions and voice!

Follow us on Instagram for updates on these and other events. Fill out the Participant Form for your region below, and we’ll be in touch to let you know when we add new events to our schedule.

Impact Year Participant Form

Impact Year Participant Form

Impact Year Participant Form

Impact Year Participant Form

Upcoming Service Projects:

Follow us on Instagram for updates on these and other events.

Flashmob for First Responders: Bringing Joy & Gratitude to COVID-19 Hospital Workers

Tuesday, Feb 2, 7 – 8 pm ON ZOOM

The Jewish value of hakarat hatov (recognizing the good) ensures that we take notice of our blessings during hard times. It is also the idea that we must cultivate a practice of gratitude in our lives every day! Amidst this harsh pandemic, let’s celebrate some of our hardest working community members—our first responder hospital workers. Together, we will learn and perform a Zoom dance to share in a video recording, along with your gratitude to local hospital staff. Register here. Question? Contact [email protected] 

Beyond the Books: Address Education Inequalities through Service

Sunday, Feb 7, 7:30 – 8:30 pm ON ZOOM   

Support students, teachers, and schools by going Beyond the Books. Discuss your experience with distance learning and explore how the pandemic has impacted the education system. We will learn from each other and key education stakeholders, while doing a mitzvah at the same time. At this event, you can contribute to our virtual school supply drive and sign up to be a volunteer to be a peer tutor through a teen-led initiative called Free Peer Tutoring. Register here. Questions? Contact 

Baby Bags of Love: A Baby Essentials Drive for Families in Need

Sunday, Feb. 14, 11am-12pm ON ZOOM 

Practice the Purim tradition of matanot evyonim (giving gifts to the poor) by providing “Baby Bags of Love” full of essential items for parents with infants on-the-go. For families struggling financially, these essentials may be inaccessible and unaffordable. Let’s ensure they do not have to choose between a meal and baby wipes. Purchase items from this wishlist, and come learn how to support families in need. Register here to receive the zoom link. Questions? Contact [email protected]

Food Drive: Bay Area Teens Combat Food Insecurity

Tuesday, Feb. 23, 7:30-8:15pm ON ZOOM 

Since COVID-19, there has been a monumental rise in families needing help from food banks in Silicon Valley. Join us for an interactive and engaging evening as we learn about this growing epidemic in Palo Alto and the surrounding Bay Area, and put the Jewish value of tzedekJustice for all—into action. By donating healthy and nutritious food to the JFCS food pantries, you can ensure that our struggling community is able to enjoy nutritious and healthy meals. Zoom link and materials list provided when you sign up through this link Questions? Contact [email protected]. 

Ongoing volunteer opportunities:

Letter Writing for Homebound Seniors

Everyone loves to get handwritten notes, especially seniors!  Help make an isolated senior’s day by writing a card, sending a joke, or drawing a picture, and let them know you are thinking about them. If you would like to write personal notes to ten seniors in our community, please contact Deborah Schneider at [email protected] for a list of names and instructions on where to send them.

Donate to JFCS Food Banks

Our community faces an unprecedented need for food donations and deliveries during the pandemic. Help JFCS keep our Food Banks full throughout the Bay Area and ensure we have essential supplies for everyone in need. Learn more about how you and your family can contribute.

Completed Service Projects

Seeding Change: Bay Area Teens Take Action for the Environment

YouthFirst and teens from across the Bay Area celebrated the birthday of the trees—a.k.a. Jewish Earth Day or Tu B’Shevat! Participants heard from an expert panel about ways to take environmental action, learn how to make and plant seed bombs, and engage in climate change advocacy. 

Compassion for Companions: Supporting the Pets of People in Need

Teens led an Instagram campaign to explore ways we can provide compassion for pets, and the ways pets provide companionship to us—especially people facing great challenges. Participants supported an animal supply drive to benefit the 700 animals that give companionship to people in need through Shanti Project’s PAWS Program.

Make Your Voice Heard: Removing Racial Inequities in the Criminal Justice System

The Jewish teaching “Tzedek Tzedek TirdofJustice, justice you shall pursue” implores us to create a society built on values of fairness and equality. The criminal justice system is filled with just the opposite, as seen in issues such as racial profiling, sentencing inequities, and cash bail. Teens heard longtime advocate Kat Morgan share her experiences working at San Quentin Prison, how she came to do the work she does, using her voice to make an impact.

Voting is Peachy: Combat Voter Suppression in the Georgia Run-Off Election

Voter suppression has been a challenge in the U.S. election system for decades, and barriers have increased dramatically due to COVID related restrictions. Teens helped disrupt voter suppression in Georgia during the Senate run-off election by writing and texting important reminders to voters.

Warm Winter Drive for Homeless and Shelter Communities

In partnership with LifeMoves, one of the largest homeless services agencies in Silicon Valley, we collected winter clothing essentials and wrote cards with New Year’s wishes for families in need.

Let Me Entertain You: Bring a Smile to Seniors with Memory Loss

In collaboration with Skyview Day Club, a program of JFCS, teens learned about the challenges facing older adults with severe memory loss, and the impact this has on their families and caregivers. Then, teens signed up for a talent show to entertain seniors and provide respite for caregivers at their daily lunchtime Zoom get-togethers.

#ShareALight with Seniors

Teens from all across the Bay Area joined together for this special opportunity on the night before Chanukah began to learn about the impacts of social isolation on seniors in our community, and take action by writing them letters of warmth and connection.

Removing the Smokescreen: Illuminating & Responding to Stories of California’s Fires

At this very special debut screening of a short film produced by our SF teen leaders, teens heard personal stories of loss due to the California fires. They also learned how to prepare and stock a “Go Bag” for their homes, and donated supplies to the JFCS Fire Relief Supply Drive.

Shop Local: Support Small Businesses During the Pandemic

In a lead-up to holiday shopping, teens shared their favorite local shops, boutiques, and restaurants on our Instagram. We also heard from local shop owners as they shared their stories about how the industry is faring after 9 months of COVID challenges.

Climate Change Your Mind / Beach Cleanup

Throughout this week-long social media campaign to advocate on behalf of the environment, teens highlighted some of the most unassuming human habits negatively impacting our planet. Each day they offered up actions we can take to make a difference, culminating in a beach clean-up at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Warm Hats and Hugs: Support Critically Ill Children and Learn How to Knit!

Critically ill children and their families face some unique challenges, and teens learned how the work of Ronald McDonald House supports them. San Mateo’s very own Hannah Levine taught us how to knit, and then in our own way, we gave the families “warm hugs” by donating our creations to child patients.

Fridge for Thought: Address Food Insecurity in Marin County

At these events, teens helped address food insecurity issues for communities and households in Marin and San Francisco. They learned about a community-powered initiative called Community Fridges, as well as donated food to support JFCS clients and our Food Pantry.

Takeout Tuesday—Coming Right Up!

As we all have witnessed, many small restaurants/eateries are struggling to keep their businesses open due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Shelter-In-Place orders. We encouraged teens from all over the Bay Area to order take out/delivery from a local restaurant and then join us on ZOOM. We played interactive games like and Kahoot, while connecting with old and new faces!

Face Masks for Frontline Workers

Given the short supply of face masks for first responders, hospitals, and other high-risk workers, teens helped make them at home using these instructions or watching this video demonstration.

Storytime: Raising LGBTQ Awareness with Children

During this virtual storytime activity, teens spent time reading books with positive representations of central LBGTQ characters to young children (on Zoom!) and helped increase the inclusion of queer characters and themes in children’s literature.

Combat Voter Suppression

Voter suppression has been a challenge in the U.S. election system for decades. We disrupted longtime strategies of voter suppression by ensuring that Americans who are eligible to vote were registered and knowledgeable about how and where to vote. We organized two separate ways for teens to join this effort, with postcard-writing, and direct phone calls.

Gloves On: Neighborhood Clean Up

Teens collected as much trash as they could in their local neighborhood, and then met together to connect and learn more about how waste and recycling is managed by city authorities in the Bay.

Virtual Career Nights

Find out how your interests could turn into a career. Teens get a chance to join a variety of successful professionals online to hear them speak about their unique career journeys, followed by a structured Q&A. Stay tuned for our next virtual Career Night!


Director  Linda Karlin; 415-359-2463

San Francisco Natan Kuchar; 415-359-2477

North Peninsula Linda Karlin; 415-359-2463

South Peninsula Deborah Schneider; 650-688-3059

Marin County Margolit Sands; 415-419-3641


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