By Raizy Goldberg
The hustle and bustle is boiling around us, as the excitement of Chanukah is fast approaching. Buying candles and oil and gifts galore, we all look forward to giving our families a beautiful and warm-hearted chag. Yet this year–with the Rochel Baron, a’h, Toy Drive, l’zecher nishmas Aaron Tepfer, a’h, speeding full steam ahead–we can rejoice knowing that we included a mitzvah in our list of to-do’s. As a result of our genuine efforts, hundreds of children who might otherwise have gone without will receive and enjoy colorful, new, and age-appropriate toys.
To date, an unbelievable 750 families have benefitted from this toy drive, with 3,800 children the proud recipients of wonderful toys in time for Chanukah. Huge shipments of thousands of toys from anonymous donors have bolstered the efforts in an enormous way. Due to the overwhelming response from our community, an overabundance of toys were donated; this allowed for the toy drive to extend to families of klei kodesh and other well-deserving families.
Taking a peek into the packaging and delivery process is a delight in itself. While, last year, the Nivneh volunteers packaged gifts with earmuffs, gloves, and flashlights in the Yeshiva Darchei Torah trailers, now they feel like they are in a palace on Heyson Road, where Rabbi Nosson Neuman has arranged all-hour access, so volunteers can work around the clock. Bais Yaakov Ateres Miriam’s second floor was turned into a toy packaging center lzecher nishmas Naama Chana Markovits, a’h. The piles of boxes delivered by Brach’s were artfully and enthusiastically stacked in the box room by the toy drive volunteer boys. With the space set up like a virtual store, volunteers got a packaging slip with age and gender specifics and went shopping on the many shelves packed high and wide with toys of all types in order to fill their orders. Kids from all neighborhoods volunteered to help restock the endless shelves and shlep boxes of all sizes.
The first big delivery began in Bayswater, when Mr. Laurie Garber picked up a truck early Sunday morning with Brach’s workers, who helped deliver many toy packages. Trucks delivered toys the entire week to make sure the toys arrived in time for Chanukah!
A tremendous debt of gratitude goes to Yanky Brach and Simcha Stoll, for providing workers on a daily basis to help with anything the volunteers needed, as well as providing sushi platters, wrap platters, doughnuts, and coffee to the many volunteers and treats for the many kids who helped make this a reality. This communal endeavor has certainly taken flight and is culminating in an extraordinary experience for all involved, as evidenced by the many heartfelt calls and texts of appreciation and thanks from parents whose children had just opened their special deliveries.
Chanukah is the yom tov of light and we all have a new and special appreciation for this amazing mitzvah! At the helm of the toy drive were two local UJA-Federation of NY agencies, JCCRP and JCC of the Greater Five Towns, and Ettie Schoor, founder and director of Nivneh. The key executives of these agencies, Nathan Krasnovsky and Joel Block, helped in every way possible, whether by shlepping boxes of toys or arranging the funds to make this drive a complete success. Nathan, Joel, and Ettie collectively would like to extend their boundless hakaras hatov to the toy drive coordinators: Shifi Bloom, Bukie Cohen, Ilana David, Ester Feuer, Chaya Gibber, Chana Hoch, Fraidy Osina, Aviva Paneth, Rocky Stern, and Miriam Vegh. A big thank you goes to the dedicated staff of JCCRP/JCC and to the many volunteers who helped make this toy drive so amazingly successful! Tizku lmitzvos! v