The Jewish Family Service’s annual B’Yachad Gift Bag Program has for 10 years offered several ways to volunteer, either by donating, shopping, wrapping or delivering gifts to people throughout the community who are in need emotionally, financially or spiritually. The program is funded exclusively by donations of time and money.
As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged this spring, it became clear that B’Yachad would need to proceed differently this year. In Hebrew, b’yachad means “together,” something that presented too much risk for the time being. Trying to identify safe ways for people to volunteer, program leaders acknowledged that there could be no groups of people wrapping gifts; no in-store shopping; and no greeting people at their front door to deliver gifts. Instead, they asked peopled to donate online this year. All bags contained standard items that could be ordered in large quantities online. Volunteers safely delivered gift bags to nearly 185 people, who were struggling with isolation or loneliness, experiencing financial hardship, or who need help believing someone cares. Recipients included chaplaincy and Holocaust survivor clients.
During this time of being apart from one another, so many people and agencies came ‘together’ to make this happen. What a beautiful example of community connection. Find out more about the Jewish Family Service and its programming at jfssp.org.