“Helping,” Is Caring In Action

Submitted by Marian Schwartz

Let us be thankful that, because they have never had to go to bed hungry, we have to explain to our children that there are some people who cannot afford enough food to eat. Let us be thankful that we all have something we can share with others and still have enough for ourselves. About five years ago I was contacted by Hudson River Housing, asking if our congregation could provide any Thanksgiving food baskets for their clients. At first I thought, “We already do LunchBox every month, provide meals for the homeless shelter, and collect for CanJam—gee, we ask so much of our congregation already”. Then I thought, well, maybe we can do just a little bit more, hence Trim-a-Thanksgiving was born. The congregation so generously responded that we eventually increased the amount of baskets we made from 5 to 7, and this year to 10, double the original amount. Three years ago we started Turkey Trot, which far from detracting from Trim, resulted this, the third year, in our being able to donate a total of 1,525 lbs. of turkeys to local food pantries to distribute to client families and for LunchBox to use to put on a turkey dinner, 10 turkeys to accompany the Trim baskets, and 4 additional turkeys (one kosher) for local Jewish families in need on Thanksgiving. This is all due to your unflagging generosity.

And now I’m thinking, “We ask so much of our congregation already, but can we ask for a little bit more?” I’ m thinking this because new statistics show that 30,280 residents of our county are food insecure (either struggle to eat a decent meal on a regular basis or even have to go without food for a day or days at a time). Of that number, 15,000 cannot get food stamps and have to rely on emergency help such as food pantries and LunchBox (food stamp assistance recently reverted to pre-2009 levels). This puts a tremendous strain on food pantries & LunchBox, which has lost 50% of the financial assistance NYS had been providing. We need creative, grass roots initiatives to bring more help for the hungry. We can each bring in an extra box of cereal to CanJam or provide that dozen pieces of fruit for this month’s LunchBox. Never doubt this—to hungry families, every box of cereal, every jar of peanut butter matters. And it is clear that the need is greater than ever. That is why I am especially asking you to please consider bringing in support from the broader community.

We at Vassar Temple are empowered, so let’s share our giving spirit with others. Hold a mini food drive amongst your friends, your neighbors, your book club, your workout buddies, your bridge group, your co-workers. For ideas and practical pointers about holding mini-drives we have a wonderful resource person you can contact, Nancy Samson , founder of our own CanJam program, and a national consultant on combatting hunger (canjam123@aol.com).

No matter how “mini,” each effort will make a difference, and I predict you will be surprised by the generosity of others when personally asked to help those in need. Talk to others about what we do at Vassar Temple. Inspire them to bring these ideas to their own houses of worship. At Vassar Temple we care about hunger.

Marian Schwartz, Social Action Chmn.

Would you like to help Vassar Temple help others? No gift is too small. Please let us know.

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