By Marian Schwartz

Teens from Vassar Temple’s Wednesday Night School and Youth Group once again helped make Thanksgiving happier for area families in need. After a discussion led by Dr. Nancy Samson of the Social Action Committee that considered Jewish teachings relating to chesed and the giving of tzedakah, the teens put these lessons to work, sorting hundreds of nonperishable food donated by the younger children and by members of the general congregation. Then they carefully filled gift baskets with a variety of foods, and to top everything off they created a handmade gift card for each basket.

The first few years we made 5 gift baskets. Then the teens voted to increase to 7. This year, due to the generosity of our congregation in donating ever larger amounts of trim foods, we were able to provide 10 baskets, twice the original amount we had started out giving!

Since Sandra Mamis initiated the Turkey Trot project three years ago, we also have been able to include a frozen turkey with each gift basket. The families we are helping have overcome homelessness with the help of Hudson River Housing, and we are helping them celebrate their first Thanksgiving in their new real homes. Thanks go to our teens, as well as to each person who donated a can of gravy, a box of stuffing, a dollar toward a turkey, so that together we at Vassar Temple could make these families’ Thanksgiving dreams come true.

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