Completed YouthFirst Service Projects

See a list of our past advocacy projects and service-learning events below. Looking for a way to make an impact in your community? Visit our events page to see what teen service opportunities are happening now!

2021 – 22:

Food for Flight: DIY Bird Feeders

Did you know that 1 in 8 bird species are threatened with extinction? Marin County is home to more than 150 species, including some rare and exotic ones! Teens learned about our region’s bird populations, how to protect them, and made biodegradable bird feeders to take home as a way to practice the Jewish value of showing compassion toward animals (lo tzaar baalei chayim).

Festival of Fat: Chanukah Virtual Game Night & Advocacy Event

Bay Area teens celebrated FAT, OIL, and FRIED foods at a virtual Chanukah-themed game night, and learned what Judaism says about diet culture and how to advocate for Shmirat Haguf, the mitzvah of protecting the body.

Shake off the Stress

As finals week approached, Palo Alto teens considered healthy ways to approach stressful events, while practicing Shmirat HaGuf, the Jewish value for taking care of your body

Wrap it Up, Share the Love

With the excitement of the holiday season, teens helped sort and wrap gifts for families struggling from financial, food and housing insecurity, in partnership with the Family Giving Tree, and brought the practice of Gemilut Chasadim, or “Acts of Lovingkindness” to life.

Tiny Home Big Impact 2

We rolled up our sleeves, picked up tools and got to work! The Tiny House Village for Bay Area youth facing homelessness is a project by Youth Spirit Artworks, who we were thrilled to partner with for this event.

Period Plight: Pushing for Menstrual Equity

At this unique event, teens addressed the issue of Period Poverty, the term used to refer to inequities related to menstruation. In addition to donating menstrual products, they learned about local efforts supporting a huge range of women in need while practicing the value of Kevod Habriyot—the honor and dignity of all people.

Playthings for Pooches

Teens embodied the Jewish law that prohibits against suffering of living animals by creating durable dog toys for Pets in Need, a Bay Area animal shelter focusing on finding forever homes for dogs, cats, bunnies, and other domestic animals.

Farm Volunteer Day

Digging into the soil with weeding, harvesting, and helping get the farm ready for the upcoming school year, teens supported Redwood High School’s sustainable agriculture program. They also learned about its sustainable methods for growing food and how these practices align with the Jewish agricultural tradition of Shmitah.

Food To Go with IsraAID: Food Distribution to Families Facing Food Insecurity

“All who are hungry, come and eat”. YouthFirst Teens and other teen volunteers embodied this important Jewish value by taking part in IsraAID’s efforts to provide for the staggering 1 in 4 families in California who are currently struggling with a lack of access to food.

Laptops For a Cause with Hewlett-Packard HP Refresh

Teens helped their community do a meaningful act of tzedakah (charity) by collecting and cleaning no longer needed laptops for HP Refresh, which provided them to the 1 in 3 students who don’t currently have access to a computer and internet connection necessary for their education.

2020 – 21:

Earth Day Beach Clean-Up

YouthFirst and Bay Area teens joined together to clean up our beloved Bay Area beaches and to celebrate more than 50 years of Earth Day by embodying the Jewish value of bal tashchit (do not destroy/waste)! 

Re-Imagining Juvenile Justice: Understanding Changes in Youth Crime in SF Through Testimony & Discussion

In this powerful online event, teens heard first-hand testimony about the juvenile justice system in San Francisco which is currently undergoing revolutionary change. Teens imagined a new future for youth at risk and cultivated a better understanding of how to take action on this highly complex, racial, and systemic issue.

Café by the Bay: Holocaust Survivors and Teens Share Family Stories

JFCS regularly hosts afternoon social and educational programs for Holocaust survivors called Cafe by the Bay. For this special interactive storytelling event, teens brought a photo, an heirloom, or an object that had special meaning to them and shared stories and laughter with this remarkable group of seniors.

Sharing Poetry with Seniors: Teens and Seniors Gathering for Connection

A multi-generational virtual gathering of teens and seniors from San Francisco’s 30th Street Senior Center. Teens and seniors shared a poem or short story around the theme of L’dor v’dor (from generation to generation)—something that was passed down to you from a previous generation, or that you hope to tell your own grandchildren one day.

A Day in the Life: Support Neighbors Without Housing

In partnership with Jewish Teen Collective Marin, YouthFirst teens collected items from this wish list to benefit local shelter St. Vincent de Paul Society of Marin. The items were assembled into hygiene kits and distributed alongside the shelter’s food service. At the Zoom event, teens heard from special guests who have experienced housing insecurity and discussed building a space of empathy, connection, and action. 

A Semi-sweet Chocolate Seder: A Chocolate Journey from Slavery to Freedom

Impact Year teens across the Bay Area joined together for a tasty adventure through the Passover Haggadah and the story of Exodus. We explored contemporary plagues of modern slavery, un-ethical farming practices, and child labor.  We learned how we can help end these practices while celebrating together with chocolate treats! 

Tiny Home, Big Impact: Help Build a Tiny House Village for Unhoused Youth

We rolled up our sleeves, picked up tools and got to work! The Tiny House Village for Bay Area youth facing homelessness is a project by Youth Spirit Artworks, who we were thrilled to partner with for this event.  

Treat Yo’Self: Collecting favorite comfort foods for families in need

We learned about how food insecurity impacts the way people think about food, and the difference between food for survival vs. food for ”oneg” (Hebrew for pleasure). We shared with families in need by buying a few extra bags of our “favorite snacks” for our food drive. 

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

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, we celebrated some of our hardest working community members—our first responder hospital workers. Watch our video!

Beyond the Books: Addressing Education Inequalities through Service

We discuss our experiences with distance learning and explored how the pandemic has impacted the education system. We contributed to a virtual school supply drive and signed up to be peer tutors through a teen-led initiative called Free Peer Tutoring.

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

For the Purim tradition of matanot evyonim (giving gifts to the poor), we provided “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. We don’t want anyone to choose between a meal and baby wipes.

Food Drive: Bay Area Teens Combat Food Insecurity

Since COVID-19, there has been a monumental rise in families needing help from food banks in Silicon Valley. We learned about this growing epidemic in the Bay Area, and put the Jewish value of tzedekJustice for all—into action by donating healthy and nutritious food to the JFCS food pantries.

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!

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