Hewlett mobilizes backpack chesed


More than 100 volunteers converged Sunday on the Yeshiva of South Shore in Hewlett to stuff backpacks for children in need.

Participating in an event organized by Supplies for Success, children, parents and grandparents came from Brooklyn, Manhattan and West Hempstead, as well as from the Five Towns and Far Rockaway.

Donated backpacks and contents were age appropriate — more colorful for younger students, more mature for older ones, and included notebooks, filler paper, looseleaf books, crayons, pens, pencils and other supplies.

This is the 12th year of Supplies for Success, said Irwin Gershon, Long Island director for health care professionals and Tov B’Yachad, an organization that he described as “an Orthodox initiative taking place within the UJA.”

Donated supplies are collected throughout the year by shuls and individuals.

Batsheva Aaron of Anshei Chesed of Hewlett “secured the location for packing last year and this year,” Gershon said. “Rebbitzen Lisa Septimus of Young Israel of North Woodmere started the project a few years ago [collecting for the project] and it spread to other shuls. Two years ago I got six shuls to come together; this year it’s 12 shuls.”

“We want to engage them in terms of the services available,” said Janet Bienenfeld, associate director of UJA-Federation of Long Island, “to help them understand what UJA-Federation does — tikun olam, chesed, helping people, doing mitzvot. Hopefully it will ultimately translate into fundraising. They will understand that we are there for the community. To help schools, shuls, Achiezer, individual families, the JCC.”

Joel Block of the JCC noted that in the wake of Sandy, many more need this. He also said that students came to help and received chesed hours, a requirement at many local schools. “What could be better,” he said.

The school bags are distributed to those who request it, including the JCC, West Hempstead kosher food pantry, Young Israel of Bayswater, the Greater Five Towns JCC and kosher food pantry and local schools.