Mitzvah Day good deeds
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Louis Patterson, Joe Grabiner, Daniel Walsh, Max Twivy and Alex Tansey on gardening duty in Stamford Hill during Mitzvah Day 2007
Ten thousand community members will be on charitable call on November 16 for the annual Mitzvah Day.
Founded in 2005 by Laura Marks, who had witnessed the success of a similar event in Los Angeles when she lived in America, it encourages participants to give their time rather than money and to help general, as well as Jewish causes. As organisers point out: "This is charity work for credit crunch times."
All projects are run under the auspices of Mitzvah Day partners and among the 120-plus involved this year are UJIA, JLGB, Bnei Akiva, Habonim-Dror and RSY-Netzer. Charities being supported include Jewish Care, the Manchester Fed, World Jewish Relief and the Jewish Council for Racial Equality. The venture is also part of international Jewish Social Action Month and is endorsed by religious and lay leaders.
There will be over 250 projects this year such as Bring Sunshine to Seniors, organised in conjunction with Jewish Care and welfare providers in the regions. The aim is for every home to be visited by volunteers of all ages on the day to befriend residents, record reminiscences and undertake maintenance tasks.
Another activity will be a packathon, whereby teams of teens and adults will prepare hundreds of boxes of essential items for distribution to East European Jews.
As an example of working among the general community, a Mitzvah Day team will clear out a pond, paint a barn and clear gardens at Kentish Town Community Farm.
Other beneficiaries include Homeless Action in Barnet and Barnardo's and a number of projects will see Jews working alongside other faith organisations.
Ms Marks stressed: "It is a useful reminder that you don't need lots of money to make a real difference to people's lives. It's amazing what a difference we can make to someone else by donating just a few hours.
"We have projects for everyone and it will be the most rewarding day of the year for all who take part."