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September 8, 2005 By:
Zara Myers, JE Features
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Packing food for the hungry has become a multigenerational activity.
Though not too great a flame burns from the candles on a five-year cake, the birthday still remains significant in and of itself.

The Jewish Relief Agency, a project of Lubavitch House, this month celebrates half a decade of providing food to low-income families in the local Jewish community.

The group will mark the occasion through a large charity effort on Sunday, Sept. 11, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at its regional headquarters, 9986 Gantry Road in Northeast Philadelphia.

Community leaders and hundreds of volunteers of all ages are expected to help pack kosher, nonperishable food, then load their own cars and make deliveries to homes in this pre-Rosh Hashanah distribution.

By Leaps and Bounds
The agency has grown exponentially since September 2000, when three volunteers brought food to 19 area families. Today, approximately 400 volunteers show up each month to distribute food to about 1,650 households.

In the past five years, "3,500 different volunteers have participated in our food distribution, and collectively donated 33,000 hours of time to help distribute 82,739 boxes of food," reported JRA chair Daniel Erlbaum.

"It's absolutely inspiring to reflect on how the community has rallied around this cause," he continued. "And while we're proud, we also have a great sense of urgency to meet the needs of all of the Jews in our community - and beyond - who need help.

"We know, based on prior successes, that the community will continue to step up."

And what about the date - is there any significance to working so hard to assist the needy come Sept. 11?

"To take a day of darkness," replied Erlbaum, "and to have the opportunity to do something so positive and transforming is absolutely something that factored into our planning - all the more so because it's such a special day for us."

For more information or to sign up, call 610-660-0190; e-mail: [email protected]; or visit: www.jewishrelief.org.

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