There’s something for everyone on Mitzvah Day. We started in 1998 when our sons were just two years old, coloring paper bags that older kids would fill with toiletries (for the women’s shelter) or lunches (for the Salvation Army). We also baked cookies, before someone realized, fortunately for the recipients, that toddlers handling cookie dough wasn’t a great idea. Over the years, we’ve painted flower pots for seniors, wrapped birthday presents, pruned at Charlotte Green community gardens, cleaned Ronald McDonald House, served lunch for new moms at Florence Crittendon, assembled first aid kits for Freedom School, and scrubbed headstones at the Hebrew Cemetery.
For me, getting a small taste of everything is the best approach. Learning about several organizations who help the most vulnerable around Charlotte, I’ve gained tremendous appreciation for their phenomenal work and later donated to support their causes. I love trying new projects each year and meeting Temple congregants along the way – people with whom I may never have interacted in any other setting.
For some, Mitzvah Day is a gateway to ongoing volunteer work. Inspired by the work at a single agency, congregants then dedicate time year-round – tutoring at Sterling Elementary, serving soup kitchen meals, developing one-on-one relationships with refugee families, starting afterschool clubs at youth homes, and collecting food for the hungry. We have project captains and volunteers so devoted they’ve served for 5-10+ years on the same project.
For others who are passionate about gardening or crafts or cooking or painting, Mitzvah Day provides a way to help others while enjoying their hobbies and spending time with friends. This year, we’ll have Baby Boomer TriBEs volunteer together as they develop relationships.
Your motivation doesn’t really matter. Whether a single day or an ongoing commitment, you are helping repair the world. Mark your calendar for May 19th.
Karen Greenblatt works in Customer Service at the Levine JCC and has been a Mitzvah Day volunteer for 20+ years.