Brighton rocks in Mitzvah Day project contest
Mitzvah Day’s Laura Marks
A cross-communal Brighton charity has been chosen as the winner of a contest for the best project on Mitzvah Day in November, when 18,000 volunteers performed good deeds across the country.
Helping Hands, which recently celebrated its 10th birthday, organised volunteers to decorate and package more than 100 boxes of cupcakes, which were distributed to hospitals, homeless shelters and Jewish Care's Hyman Fine home for the elderly.
Helping Hands was selected from 35 entries by a judging panel including Transport Minister Theresa Villiers, JC editor Stephen Pollard and Rabbi Jeremy Gordon of New London Synagogue. The other judge was Mitzvah Day founder Laura Marks, who said the panel had been impressed that although "supporting our own community, Helping Hands also gave back to local causes".
Helping Hands co-ordinator Sarah Wilks said: "We were already chuffed with how the day went. Now we are doubly chuffed.
"We always hope to be a little bit original with what we do.
"The aim was to bring people together and the fact that Mitzvah Day saw so many strands of the community - young, old, students, people who had never volunteered before - was fabulous."
Among the three runners-up was the Michael Sobell Sinai School, where pupils made a collection for Barnet Refugee Centre, helped plant flowers at St Luke's hospice in Harrow and sent cards to servicemen.
Another runner-up was Manchester organisation Faith Network, which brought together Jewish and Christian volunteers to plant vegetables at an allotment which feeds homeless and other vulnerable people.
The third was Leicester interfaith project the St Philip's Centre, which, with the help of the Orthodox and Progressive communities, collected thousands of toiletries for domestic violence victims who had moved to safe houses.