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Don't 'Fall Back' on Chance to Perform Good Deeds

October 22, 2009 By:
Amy Purdy, JF Feature
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Federation's third annual Mitzvah Mania celebration is slated for Sunday, Nov. 1, the first full day of Eastern Standard Time. Since clocks are set back one hour on Saturday night, Oct. 31 -- and a full hour is "gained" -- organizers encourage participants to arrive at their projects bright and early for the 9 a.m. start time.

To date, thousands of volunteers have registered for the big event -- the local Jewish community's largest single day of social action. Projects take place throughout Greater Philadelphia and most run until 1 p.m.

In addition to Federation-sponsored opportunities, area synagogues and Jewish Community Centers are holding mitzvah projects at their sites.

"We all benefit from volunteering for Mitzvah Mania," said Lana Dishler, who together with her husband, Bernie, and Jackie Needleman and David Cohen, and Simi Kaplin Baer and Marc Baer, co-chair the event.

"The recipients of food, winter clothing and home winterization, will benefit, but so do the volunteers," she added. "Those who perform the mitzvot will feel how ennobling it is to give of ourselves."

"We are overwhelmed by how many people have registered and will be sharing in this great day," noted Bernie Dishler.

"Although some projects are full, several key projects at the Stiffel Senior Center, the Go-Green Project at Morris Park, and the projects at the Kaiserman JCC still have need for volunteers," according to Dishler.

In addition, free seasonal flu shots will be available for adults 18 years and older at the Klein JCC and Stiffel JCC from 9 a.m. until supplies last.

The Klein will administer 500 shots (donated and administered by the Albert Einstein Healthcare Network), and the Stiffel, 100 (donated and administered by Thomas Jefferson University Hospital). Seasonal flu shots will be given on a first-come, first-served basis.

Volunteer projects at the Stiffel Senior Center in South Philadelphia include painting the interior of the center, packing food bags for Mitzvah Food Pantry clients, and organizing and cataloging donated library books. Stiffel, a Federation partner, serves some 400 seniors a year with a daily, kosher hot lunch, and a range of programs. Stiffel Senior Center programs are designed to help participants continue to live independently in their own homes.

"We know that Stiffel adds quality to the lives of the vulnerable elderly, and Mitzvah Mania volunteers who lend a hand here will help enhance their experience," notes Lana Dishler.

'Make a Positive Difference'

The Kaiserman JCC on the Main Line is sponsoring projects that include collecting new winter hats, scarves and gloves for low-income children and adults, and revitalizing the Julie Goldfine Fitness Trail on the JCC grounds. Volunteer tasks will include clearing overgrown branches, removing trash and mulching.

The Kaiserman JCC, a Federation partner, will also join with the Philadelphia-based nonprofit "Cradles to Crayons" to collect new and gently-used children's items that will be donated to low-income households.

Mitzvah Mania volunteers will participate in projects that include caring for low-income seniors by winterizing homes; collecting winter hats, mittens and scarves for clients of the Jewish Family and Children's Service, as well as for Project Home; cooking soup for JCC Klein's Kosher Home-Delivered Meals program; visiting patients at Moss Rehab in Elkins Park; and working to help preserve Morris Park.

According to Lana Dishler: "Mitzvah Mania is unique because it provides the entire community an opportunity to make a positive difference, in one day, together. We welcome all to come out and volunteer."

For volunteer registration and details on all projects taking place on Sunday, Nov. 1: Mitzvah Mania '09, call 215-832-0564 or log on to: jewishphilly.org/mitzvahmania.

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