By Raizy Goldberg
Even before the schach is rolled away, eager young children await the glory of Chanukah and the promise of colorful and exciting gifts and toys. This autumn we are b’H enjoying beautiful weather, a rainbow of fall foliage and hopefully a wealth of nachas and good health. But last year was not the case, as Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc around us. Many of our friends and neighbors experienced devastation beyond words, yet an equal number of capable donors and volunteers heroically ensured that all children in need experienced a Chanukah of joy and light.
In that spirit of giving, this year our community looks to spark the seeds of generosity once again, through the joint efforts of the JCCRP/JCC Rochel Baron a’h Toy Drive, lzecher nishmas Aaron Tepfer, a’h.
With three weeks to Chanukah, the toy drive is in full swing. At the helm are Nathan Krasnovsky, executive director of JCCRP, in conjunction with Joel Block, executive director of the JCC of the Greater Five Towns, and Ettie Schoor, who spearheaded Nivneh and was recruited by Nathan Krasnovsky for this project. Together with the incredible JCCRP/JCC dedicated staff members, Elisheva Trachtenberg, social worker at JCCRP, Naamah Adelman, case manager at Met Council/JCCRP, and Stacey Feldman of JCC, there are nine amazing volunteer coordinators working on a daily basis, and over 50 additional volunteers already lined up for packaging. Much gratitude and appreciation go to a number of key volunteer coordinators who are working very hard to make this a successful endeavor: Bukie Cohen, Ilana David, Ester Feuer, Chaya Gibber, Chana Hoch, Fraidy Osina, Aviva Paneth, Rocky Stern, and Miriam Vegh.
Toys are pouring into Brach’s Supermarket, a primary drop-off location in the neighborhood. There are beautiful signs posted in the store, a huge collection bin and anyone who brings in a toy can get a Chanukah treat from customer service. Since more space was needed because of the number of toys expected, Mr. Brach approached Rabbi Neuman, who graciously agreed to provide space at Bais Yaakov Ateres Miriam. Mr. Brach is installing special shelving in the rooms where the packaging will take place. Deliveries will be made to Bayswater, Far Rockaway, Five Towns, Oceanside, Long Beach, and Belle Harbor. The toys will be organized by the recipients’ age and gender, and packages will be color coded by neighborhood to make the delivery process as streamlined and manageable as possible. In order to maximize privacy, the packaging committee will be receiving a sheet by neighborhood with no names. Each volunteer will get families to package for but will not have any access to who the family is. Everything is coded with a number to ensure maximum privacy for all.
Community residents are so excited to participate and contribute toys to this very meaningful project. Amazingly, families who last year were on the receiving end of Hurricane Sandy relief are now so happy to be on the giving end. Families are going on Chanukah shopping sprees to buy gifts for others less fortunate. What a special feeling that is for the children who are lucky enough to get their own special Chanukah gifts year after year. If you can’t make it to the store, you can contribute online to the JCCRP website by clicking “donate to toy drive” and picking out gifts. There have been incredible, anonymous donors who have funded large segments of the project, as well as the Red Cross and the UJA-Federation of NY who are also contributing towards the drive.
The center used to store the toys was graciously donated l’zecher nishmas Naama Chana Markovits, a’h. Naama’s pure neshamah was returned to Hashem upon her passing on June 23, 2010, two days after her fourth Hebrew birthday. Her sweet and pleasant nature shone through all her deeds and actions, which she performed with excitement. Naama had a friendly, outgoing personality and was very sensitive to other people’s feelings, a truly special child who touched everyone she met and illuminated her surroundings every day. Hopefully the mitzvos created through this project, by young and old, will be a z’chus and aliyah for her neshamah.
Together, we can create a Chanukah of perfect simcha for those in need, parents and children alike. Please join us in this extraordinary communitywide effort to light up Chanukah for countless families in our area.
New, unwrapped gifts in their original packaging and/or donations can be dropped off at Brach’s Supermarket or at the JCC of the Greater Five Towns, 207 Grove Avenue in Cedarhurst.
For more information, to volunteer, or to submit a name of a family who you believe would benefit from this project, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-327-7755 and ask for Elisheva, ext. 6112 or Naamah, ext. 6124.
Tizku lmitzvos! v