Psychologist Jean Piaget maintains that children need play to grow and develop. Thanks to a new Federation initiative — inspired by the Young Leadership Cabinet — children at the Klein JCC preschool and day camp in Northeast Philadelphia will soon be playing on new, state-of-the-art equipment via Project HiP, or "Help in Play" (jewishphilly.org/hip). Project volunteers will raise funds, help build and install the playground, and participate in service-learning opportunities.
"We believe that young Jewish adults are looking for volunteer and service opportunities that connect, in a hands-on way, to fundraising projects," said Neil Cooper, chair of the Men's Cabinet.
He explained that "while there is an initial fundraising stage to make Project HiP happen, the major focus of this project is to provide a fun, exciting and rewarding volunteer opportunity."
The Men's Cabinet will create service-learning events that focus on the "bigger picture of community involvement, hands-on projects and Jewish communal needs," notes Cooper, who also serves on Federation's Israel Advocacy Committee and on the AIPAC Greater Philadelphia Leadership Council.
According to Lorin Decker, a member of the Renaissance Men's Cabinet and Federation's Committee for the Jewish Poor, Project HiP is a "unique opportunity to make meaningful, lasting contributions that will directly impact a segment of our Jewish community — the children of the Klein JCC."
The playground is the focal point of the day for the JCC's more than 400 preschoolers and campers. The current facilities are 30 years old; rust and wear-and-tear have made sections unsafe for usage.
"Project HiP is very important, considering our demographics," says Andre Krug, president and CEO of the Klein JCC. He explains that "85 percent of the children who attend our preschool and camp live in households with an annual income below $50,000. Most of these children live in apartments, and the JCC is one of the few places where they get to play outdoors."
Krug says that "we provide generous scholarships, and for many children, the Klein JCC is their lifeline to the community. The new playground will go a very long way in helping us provide the highest-quality environment for our kids."
Project organizers plan to partner with KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit that mobilizes community volunteers, and individual and corporate donors, to build playgrounds.
"Project HiP is true community collaboration," says Cooper. "We are interested in involving local businesses to sponsor the project and to provide in-kind donations on the day we install the playground."
Michael Neil, a member of the Renaissance Group Men's Cabinet, says that Project HiP can also raise the profile of online giving in the community.
"Online giving has become an increasingly important vehicle in raising funds for the recent presidential campaigns and disaster relief in Haiti," explains Neil, who also serves on Renaissance Group event committees, and is a board member of the Jewish Relief Agency."
He adds that "through Project HiP's Web site and secure donation page, we have made it easy to support the project."
"We're looking to engage the community, especially those who seek a quick, easy way to make a donation, and who also want to feel the impact of their philanthropy by building a playground for children in need," concludes Neil.
Anyone interested can donate and/or volunteer for Project HiP online at: jewishphilly.org/hip.
One stated goal for the project is for 1,000 people to contribute a minimum of $50 to cover the related costs of the new playground.
To learn more about Corporate Sponsorship and in-kind donations, call Alison Margulies at 215-832-0513 or e-mail: [email protected]